While the demand for colleges and universities declines, the demand for apprenticeships is increasing.
- College enrollment has declined by 15% in the past decade, while demand for apprenticeships has increased to 50%.
- The majority of apprenticeship programs are tied to construction, but 40% are tied to white-collar jobs in information technology, finance, and consulting companies.
- Apprenticeship programs are becoming more competitive and sought after, with the admission rates of specific programs being comparable to Ivy League schools, according to The Wall Street Journal.
- Maryland aims to register 45% of graduating high school students in apprenticeships within the next eight years.
- American businesses and state jobs are beginning to drop college-degree requirements in favor of experience and skillsets.
Why It’s Important
As the job market faces new challenges—a shifting job economy focused on gig work, 3.6% unemployment, 6% inflation, etc.—college degrees are becoming less advantageous for young workers who are not guaranteed 30 years of hard work and a pension. Colleges have the disadvantage of preparing graduates for specific skills they may not find applicable in the working world, burying them in an average of $37,574 in federal loans.
The evolving economic situation has created incentives that are pushing thousands of students away from college and toward paid apprenticeships and vocational schools, which offer on-the-job training, work experience, and regular paychecks. This trend is pushing against several decades of common wisdom that college is a universally successful model for success.
Not everybody agrees with the logic of the general trend away from a college education. Stanford University economist Eric A. Hanushek tells The Wall Street Journal that colleges offer a wider education with more multifaceted skills rather than apprenticeships, where students are instructed in specific tasks and skill sets that may not be beneficial in the future.
“People get more specific skills in apprenticeship programs than they do in college, and while that helps them enter the labor market with greater ease at the beginning of their careers, later in life their skills depreciate. So at age 45 or 50 or 55, these people are less likely to stay in the labor market because their skills are less valuable,” he says.