A staple of professional growth for centuries, an apprenticeship is a time-tested concept that gives youth the opportunity to gain technical expertise, soft skills, and even entrepreneurial skills by supporting and emulating an experienced practitioner and mentor. An apprenticeship can result in a long-term job offer for those who excel, or at the very least provide relevant experience, professional networks, and a great reference for other prospective employers. Apprenticeships also help youth clarify their individual strengths and weaknesses. For disadvantaged youth, this unique exposure to the workplace can establish a career trajectory: young people who can find and keep jobs for one year are 85% more likely to avoid future unemployment.
Apprenticeships require investment from employers, but the costs can be partially offset by savings from lower staff turnover as the apprenticeships allow employers to hire well-suited youth right off the bat. In addition, the time-bound nature of apprenticeships allows employers to test out prospective hires before choosing those most likely to succeed, which can increase employers' willingness to use people with little or no full time experience.
Governments could help foster apprenticeship programs by providing stipends to those completing apprenticeships and tax credits to employers. Germany, for example, has invested in an apprenticeship program that has a 60% permanent placement rate helping overcome the challenge of youth facing a short-term deficit of jobs.
Case study: The Tshwane University of Technology in South Africa requires all students in their final year to complete an integrated learning program: part lecture and part work. Students work in their chosen industry to gain valuable skills and a potential post-graduation employment offer, while being compensated to partially fund their tuition.