Apprenticeships and a New Generation

April 3, 2017 Lauren Gallagher

Apprenticeships and a New Generation

As a new generation steadily becomes the majority workforce, manufacturing, production and related companies are feeling a strain. Skilled workers are aging, and young people aren’t as attracted to steady, long-term employment.

According to, “In a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study, 53 percent of leaders at smaller businesses said they faced a ‘very or fairly major challenge in recruiting non-managerial employees.’” Apprenticeships offer a solution, but they have fallen out of popularity in recent decades.

The United States has far fewer people enrolled in apprenticeships than both Canada and the U.K. This may be in part due to a push over the past thirty years for students to pursue a degree over entering the workforce.

Happily, recent studies indicate that after years of steady decline, apprenticeship enrollment is on the rise. This coincides with a government plan to have 3 million apprenticeship starts between 2015-2020. First quarter 2015-2016 showed promise with 153,100, a 4% increase from the previous quarter.

Some companies have jumped on board to encourage apprenticeship opportunities. Hypertherm, a high-temperature metal cutting company based in New Hampshire, had an unusual boost in growth about 10 years ago.

They foresaw needing about 60 new CNC workers, but the local talent pool simply didn’t have the skills. They decided to start their own internal program. Apprentices were hired at $13 an hour. They received $14 an hour after completing the program and were on a trajectory to make $17 over the next two years.

Matthew Burge, the leader of Hypertherm’s technical training institute, attributes the program’s success in part to their, “attracting the right kinds of students; not necessarily those who have a high aptitude for math or science, but those who excel at teamwork and have the strength of character to show up on time and work hard.”

These programs enable students to learn a skill while taking home a paycheck. Additionally, they can expect a pay increase and full-time hire upon completion. Employers, in turn, have skilled employees trained in-house with their particular tools and process. Those who employ this approach also see higher worker retention rates and an overall more positive culture.

If you are looking for skilled workers today, TruPath can help. We have 15 years of experience working with clients in the light industrial, solar, electronic engineering and related fields. We’re here to help you find the talent you need.