If you’re like me and listen to a lot of podcasts (pro tip: check out Adam Grant’s WorkLife podcast for interesting and entertaining examinations of how we work!), you inevitably hear advertisements for workforce websites telling us that “hiring is hard.” They’re right, by the way. Hiring IS hard. It’s always been hard. Businesses are spending a lot of time and resources finding and training early-career talent.
So much so that hiring managers and HR professionals accept that as a truism. But a modification to the existing paradigm isn’t going to make it significantly easier.
Henry Ford, the father of the automobile, once famously said*, “if I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” When Ford was working on inventing the modern car, our society accepted horses as the defacto form of transportation. With that, we simply accepted its limitations.
Requiring degrees as proxies for skills, and exclusively looking to college campuses for early-career talent keeps industry on horses. Modern youth apprenticeship puts industry behind the wheel of an innovative talent strategy—a strategy that sees apprentices performing progressively productive and valuable work so that by the conclusion of the program they’re ready to step into full-time roles.
In addition to the financial ROI and long-term talent pipeline, apprenticeship also encourages an age-, gender- and ethnically-diverse workforce, strong ties to the community and leadership opportunities for existing staff.
Horseback riding has its place, but isn’t it time we get you into a new car?
*FACT CHECK: that Ford actually said this is disputed…still, it’s a good quote!