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 U.S. has far less people enrolled in apprenticeships than both Canada and the U.K. – and those numbers aren’t adjusted per capita. Over the past thirty years, the U.S. has pushed students towards getting a college degree, and therein lies part of the problem.

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 computer numerical control workers (CNC) 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, 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, with the added expectation of a pay increase and full-time hire upon completion. Employers in turn have skilled employees trained in-house with their particular tools, worker retention rates are increased and the overall culture benefits.

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