Apprenticeships for the 21st Century: A New Approach to Training the Next Generation of Top Talent

Apprenticeships for the 21st Century: A New Approach to Training the Next Generation of Top Talent
From Recruiter - November 10, 2016

Who is to blame for the skills gap that plagues so many employers? Its tough to say. I once pointed the finger at employers whod rather not offer training and development programs to their employees. A recent SHRM studysuggested that budgetary issues were the real culprit. Others have said the workforce isguilty of not keep its skills up to date. Still others decry higher education programs that dont align with business needs.

In reality, all of these factors and more probably play a role. Finding a solution to current talent shortages will no doubt be difficult, but that doesnt mean solutions arent out there. In fact, many people and organizations are working around the clock toidentify them.

Take, for example,Praxis, an organization that connects high-performing young talent with high-growth startups ina program it calls the apprenticeship of the 20th century.

We want to accelerate peoples careers, says Zachary Slayback, Praxiss business development director. We want to take them from where most people are when theyre 21 or 22years old and coming out of college to where most people are when theyre 27 or 28 years old. And that might happen for [our participants]when theyre 18 and 19.

Experiencing the Skills Gap Firsthand

Praxis CEO and founder Isaac Morehouse first conceived of the idea for the program while working in fundraising for education nonprofits in Washington, D.C. Many of the donors Morehouse interacted with were self-made businesspeople. At the same time, Morehouse was also working with a lot of young, college-educated people who were struggling to find the kinds of jobs they were promised theyd be able to find.

Curious about the situation, Morehouse asked to businesspeople why they werent hiring. Many of them offered the surprising response that theywere hiring but couldnt find anyone skilled or experienced enougheven for entry-level positions.

[Morehouse] noticed a huge disparity in the higher education marketplace, Slayback says. People think you go to college to pick up skills, but the reality is youre just going for a credential. The thought was, whatif we could sidestep the credentialing process altogether and feed some of the best young talent out there to the highest-growth companies?

And thus, Praxis was born.

Apprenticeships: A Better Way to Prepare for the Workforce?

The major difference between an apprenticeship and the traditional, classroom-based style of higher education is that in an apprenticeship, you actually learn, Slayback says with a laugh. It comes across as good-natured teasingrather than a mean-spirited dig, but he has a point.

Imagine if we taught people how to ride a bike the way we teach people business, Slayback continues:

You go for four years. You read about bikes, you solve problems about bikes, you watch videos about bikes, and if youre really lucky you get to talk to a few people who have ridden bikes themselves. But you dont ride a bike, and the vast majority of the time, youre learning from people who have never ridden bikes themselves. Some of these people dont even like riding bikes. And the people who have ridden bikes probably did that 15 or 20 years ago. And then after four years of that, you just throw someone in the middle of a freeway and tell them, Ride.

And then we act surprised when they dont know how to ride well? Slayback concludes. Thats how we teach business. You never actually go and learn by doing. Thats what we want to provide people.


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