The Future of Apprenticeships During COVID-19

Posted by Mara Hyman on November 13, 2020

There is no question that the pandemic has resulted in a shift in thinking about how work is conducted. Workers now contemplate how to strategically drive their careers forward, or restart them, and employers reconsider how best to strengthen or retrain their workforce while so much remains unknown about the future and economic growth. As working from home has become a new normal for many, businesses in high demand industries are seeking skills training to better prepare their employees for long-term success. This is due in large part to the ease and cost of upskilling current employees as opposed to recruiting new ones.

More recently there has been a boost in demand for quality apprenticeships that will fulfill a business’ needs, while enabling future apprentices to complete their education more quickly, from the comfort of their own homes. Penn Foster understands this positive trend firsthand, recently exceeding 100 certified apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs created with partners across multiple industries including skilled trades and healthcare. More than ever, leaders seek practical, configurable education models that their employees and trainees can adopt at scale, allowing them to upskill workers from within.

As online apprenticeships become the new normal, we looked into some macros trends that are driving their popularity.

training apprentice in manufacturing facility.

What is causing the increased demand for apprenticeships?

  • Growth in certain industries. As the economy tries to turn around months into the pandemic, several industries, particularly those who commonly seek apprentices in their areas of practice, are experiencing slow but steady growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the month of October the healthcare industry added 58,000 jobs, manufacturing added 38,000 jobs, and construction added 84,000 jobs. These and other related sectors may require swift, yet reliable, training to ensure that new employees are well equipped with the knowledge to thrive from day one. This will help ensure that their employers to see a quick return on their investment.
  • Current lack of in-person training options. While community colleges can be a great option for apprenticeship training, many schools are closed resulting from the pandemic or are struggling to find teachers for in-person education. As a result, many employers are seeing the urgency for an immediate, short-term alternative.

The benefits of selecting an online apprenticeship program

  • Flexibility of remote learning. Allowing apprentices to learn from the comfort of their own homes strengthens businesses to improve productivity and minimize cost of time spent traveling to an offsite location during a typical work schedule. For larger businesses with multiple locations, this streamlined training can also ensure that all workers receive the same quality training with the same techniques and skillsets acquired. MetroPower, a Penn Foster partner, understood the need for a program that made sense for both their traveling workers and those with long shifts who couldn’t step away, and so the ability to move through online modules at ease while balancing work was a no brainer.
  • Improves retention while gaining real-world skills. The right online apprenticeship program can position students for maximum retention with real-world simulations that mirror those acquired in an in-person program. This is undoubtedly important now that employees have transitioned remote and the ability to receive on-the-job training may be more difficult. By gaining skills online, this can also reduce the chance of risk, injury, or serious consequences that might affect others while an employer’s apprentices are still learning.

Penn Foster’s apprenticeship programs, which support RTI requirements, can be tailored to meet the needs of your business and its workforce, enabling you to fill your company’s skills gap, improve productivity, and positively impact your bottom line. To learn more, contact us to speak with an apprenticeship specialist.