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Where Talent Meets Career Opportunity

Career colleges, workforce investment boards, and youth organizations all share a similar goal: to provide their learners and clients with skills that will ultimately get them a job and put them on a pathway towards a long-term, sustainable career. To that end, these organizations have to consider both the short term market demand, as well as the long term career outlook for various positions and career paths. Additionally, they must look at all the primary and auxiliary skills that may be necessary in a given profession or career path, when developing their curriculum. While the primary or career-focused skills take precedence, including auxiliary skills, especially business and entrepreneurial skills, can lead to improved long-term outcomes for learners and organizations alike.
In 1937, the groundwork for the registered apprenticeship system was set by the Fitzgerald Act, which officially established the national apprenticeship system and empowered state agencies to register and administer apprenticeship programs. To this day, there are over 21,000 registered apprenticeship programs across the nation and over 500,000 apprentices working in those programs.1 With significant federal support being directed toward the apprenticeship system from the new administration, we see little signs of these workforce development programs slowing down. In his recent executive order, the president doubled the amount of money allocated for apprenticeship grants to $200 million a year.2
While we often hear about apprentice programs in the skilled trades industries like construction and manufacturing, apprenticeships exist in over 1,000 occupations across the U.S., including Healthcare, Information Technology, and Energy.1 As a proven solution for employers to recruit, train and retain a skilled workforce, apprenticeship programs continue to receive significant support from the federal government. In fact, the Labor Department is pushing to expand apprenticeships into a wider range of fields, including retail, policing, and more.
Last week, Penn Foster traveled to Las Vegas to attend and exhibit at the 2017 CECU Convention. This conference has become an annual voyage for the Penn Foster team. The insights we extract from conversations with partners, colleagues and industry leaders are an invaluable tool we deploy to help us better improve on our education solutions. CECU provides us with actionable ideas for how we can better serve the needs of technical and career colleges.
Earlier this week, President Trump announced his intention to expand apprenticeship programs as the cornerstone of his labor policy.1 He clearly sees apprenticeship as a skills gap solution " and not just a way to hire an assistant in front of a national audience.
As the American economy has taken on a service-oriented identify over the last couple decades, the job market has become an ultra-competitive arena. Workers today are expected to possess a higher level of skill than at any time in history. Knowledge and skill have become priceless commodities businesses seek out and deploy to gain a competitive advantage. The companies with the most adept employees are the ones leading the way in their market.
In 2016, the e-learning marketing was worth $166.5 billion; it is now estimated to grow to be worth $225 billion in 2017.1 With such rapid and colossal growth in the industry over the past decade, it is unsurprising that online learning has permeated almost all other industries, including those historically requiring more on-the-job training and hands-on work. However, as industries like manufacturing and utilities become increasingly high-tech and modernize their processes, so too do the learning approaches used by workers in these fields. 90% of academic leaders believe that by 2019, the majority of all college students will be taking at least one online course.2 As e-learning continues to expand, businesses in the skilled trades must innovate to incorporate this learning approach into their training programs.
The ASU GSV Summit always acts as a great set of meteorological instruments used to measure trends across the edtech sector. It gauges hot and cold like a thermometer and which direction the wind is blowing like an anemometer. This year's conference showed that the tectonic plates of edtech have shifted...seismically.
It's no secret that the retail industry suffers from high turnover - with a median turnover rate of 67% for part-time employees.1 This presents many challenges for retailers, chief among them the ability to ensure a consistently and thoroughly training workforce. One position, in particular, that is critical to train and yet often gets overlooked is that of retail supervisor, employees responsible for overseeing store associates either within a department or across an entire store.
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Dark, dirty, and dangerous. While the manufacturing industry has evolved dramatically over the last few decades, many Americans might still use these terms to describe a factory today. In fact, skilled trades industries across the board still suffer from the perception gap that the occupations in their fields involve dirty and low-level work, without much opportunity for career growth. In the second installment of our apprenticeship series, we will provide an overview of the perception gap in manufacturing in the U.S., why it is such a significant issue, and ways businesses can address the gap.

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