Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Change That Works: Expanding Apprenticeships in Advanced Economies

Thursday, November 12, 2015 : 10:15 AM
Orchid A (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Tom Bewick, New Work Training, Ltd.
This paper reviews the international evidence for expanding work-based training models like apprenticeship. The aftermath of the Great Recession – which profoundly affected open trading economies like Britain, Germany and the USA – has generated renewed interest amongst policy-makers in expanding earning and learning opportunities for citizens as a means of raising living standards.

The empirical evidence shows that formal structured apprenticeships provide observable productivity benefits to sectors and firms, while securing access to portable credentials and career paths for apprentice trainees. The research paper examines this evidence, including the shortcomings of some current analytical models.

The paper explores some innovative approaches internationally, that are being deployed to expand apprenticeship opportunities. These approaches include the use of fiscal and financial incentives, as well as branding and sales operations that boost demand for apprentices by employers.

The paper concludes by making the case for a new gold standard in technical and vocational education. The authors argue that by systematically rebalancing taxpayer resources committed to full-time college based models; much better market incentives could be used to fill the skills and recruitment needs of employers in advanced economies. This will require a significant mind-set shift amongst policy-makers as well as a change of attitudes amongst sectors and firms who may need to adopt different competitiveness strategies in future.

The aim of these reforms is to help advanced economies restore the link between middle class earnings and productivity growth that in the long run raises overall living standards.

The case of apprenticeship expansion in England is particularly striking.  First, England is not a continental country like Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, all with a long tradition of apprenticeship skill training. Second, England is a relatively free market-oriented country, with employers focused on labor costs. Third, England developed its own distinctive marketing strategy that has stimulated hundreds of thousands of new apprenticeships.  Fourth, the political support of all major parties has allowed for significant government investments in apprenticeship.  One section of the paper will examine how these patterns emerged.