There are plenty of flaws in the workforce pipeline, for starters, it isn’t real education, it is workforce development as the focus is on skills, not content.
Secondly, Education Dive points out it is not even the best method to prepare students for the workforce as a contingent from the National Governors Association discovered when they went to Europe.
At the age of 16, students in these countries get to decide whether they want to go onto a baccalaureate-type college prep high school taking low-level college courses or gain direct workforce experience.
“The truth is they aren’t picking at 16, they are picking at 19 or 20 after having actually worked in an apprenticeship model. So they actually make their decisions with significantly better information and experience than our young people do,” said Weber.
“There just aren’t a lot of kids at 18 that have had those experiences and know what it means to join the workforce, and so that’s the biggest takeaway from their system — their structure better aligned young people with workforce experiences so that they can make informed decisions about what career path to pursue.”
And in terms of filling the socioeconomics gaps our nation struggles with, Smith says that their education models open doors to opportunities for low-income, minority students.
“We saw abroad that they are facing the same challenges that we are. It’s certainly an area where students of diversity are not represented as they should be. One area that can make a difference is some of our lower-income students; these apprenticeship are paid so this is a way for students to earn money, the earn while you learn model. This actually makes a dollars-and-cents difference to them.”
Current education reform efforts have caused the gutting of vocational tech programs in the United States. One thing I like about the apprenticeship model is that it places the responsibility of training workers with the companies who seek the employees instead of expecting public schools to do your training for them. This model has promise.
I would add this system would be best if a classical education preceded it because I think every child deserves a strong education whether or not they plan to attend college after high school.
Since the NGA is exploring this model, we can expect that they will screw it up somehow or push it as a top-down, one-size-fits-all reform.