"BLOG: Why CT should double-down on apprenticeships"

 Lawmakers propose bill to develop a private-public partnership for creating an apprenticeship program in job-growth industries (Photo: Shutterstock.com).

Lawmakers propose bill to develop a private-public partnership for creating an apprenticeship program in job-growth industries (Photo: Shutterstock.com).

Feeling the pinch of a nationwide skilled workforce shortage, Connecticut should double-down on apprenticeships by creating a private-public partnership program for job growth industries.

SKILLED LABOR SHORTAGE

In a Babson College survey of 1,800 small business owners nationwide, respondents overwhelmingly reported that it's difficult to find candidates with the skills necessary to fit their businesses needs.

Right here in Connecticut, a lack of skilled workers was noted as a challenge for nearly half of companies that responded to a survey commissioned by the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA).

This problem is likely to get worse in the coming years. In fact, by 2020, the national economy will face a shortage of 5 million workers with the necessary education and training to fill tomorrow's jobs, according to a study by researchers at Georgetown University.

That's why apprenticeship programs are so important. They can help solve this problem by delivering a steady stream of skilled workers who understand the needs and culture of a company, benefitting apprentices and employers alike.

UPSIDE FOR EMPLOYERS

Companies willing to spend the time and resources on apprenticeships will develop a pipeline of workers who will meet the present and future needs of their business.

For every dollar devoted to apprenticeships, employers get back an average of $1.47 in increased productivity and greater front-line innovation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Apprentices get on-the-job learning, which reduces the training burden for the employers.

Also, establishing a company apprenticeship program conveys the message -- both internally and externally -- that there is a genuine commitment to their employees future, which likely will lead to increased loyalty, productivity, and cost savings in the short-term and for the long run.

UPSIDE FOR APPRENTICES

Apprenticeship programs benefit apprentices, too.

In fact, nearly 90 percent of apprenticeships find employment after completing their programs, and their average starting wage is more than $50,000 annually, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Over the course of their lifetimes, workers who complete an apprenticeship may earn hundreds of thousands of dollars more than their peers who do not.

Other states are leading the way with similar private-public partnership apprenticeship programs.

For example, Colorado recently launched a statewide apprenticeship initiative – funded by nearly $10 million in donations from Bloomberg Philanthropies and JPMorgan Chase – aiming to equip high school students with high-demand skills for careers and postsecondary opportunities with Colorado's leading industries.

Currently, in Connecticut, more than 3,400 employers and labor/management committees employ over 4,500 apprentices in registered apprenticeship programs.

CT WINS WITH APPRENTICESHIP PROGRAMS

The state of Connecticut benefits financially from apprenticeships, too. Because apprentices pay income taxes, according to the Connecticut Department of Labor, if all 5,500 state apprentices earn an average starting annual income of $20,800, this generates more than $4 million in state tax revenues.

In Connecticut, we need to continue building on our successes with apprenticeships and take even bolder steps to position the state to win the competition for tomorrow's jobs and to fill those jobs with skilled workers. The creation of a public-private apprenticeship program for identified job growth industries is a step in the right direction.

For more information on An Act Concerning the Creation of an Apprenticeship Program for Identified Job Growth Industries, click here: http://bit.ly/2n1MG1q.