Apprenticeships: An Educational Alternative

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Apprenticeships are an alternative to university in a time of rising tuition costs and fewer
employment prospects. They have gained a great deal of support from businesses, learning providers and government, enabling a rapid increase in the number of apprentices registered. This has placed the vocational learning pathway as a credible education alternative for those who lack work experience.

High quality apprenticeships are vitally important for developing the high-level skills, experience and knowledge required in today’s workplace. They are also helping to bridge skill gaps and train workers for a wide range of sectors from engineering, manufacturing and construction to health, business and law. Economic forecasts hold that manufacturing and construction sectors will need more then two million new workers by the time today’s primary school students reach working age. These sectors rely heavily on apprenticeships to train new talent which ultimately presents countless benefits for both the business and apprentices’.

Whereas universities are widely seen as places to learn the theory behind a profession, high-quality apprenticeships provide focused on-the-job learning meaning that when apprentices finish their training, they are fully prepared for the work of work. There has been a criticism of students leaving university under prepared to contribute to the workplace; these trends have already necessitated university partnerships in Ontario with many colleges: Ryerson’s joint programs with George Brown or York’s combined programs with Seneca for example. One main advantage businesses are finding with apprenticeships is that they can tailor programmes to provide learners with exactly the right skills required to do the job.

Higher education has its advantages (and I’m certainly note arguing otherwise) but during a time where unemployment is rising along side the costs associated with education, it is important to realize there are alternatives available. Vocational learning and pre-apprenticeship training provides a much needed alternative and can be the gateway for a great career.

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