The Apprentice Economy

Dana Goldstein encourages American companies to create apprenticeship programs for certain mid-skill manufacturing jobs:

There is a shortage of machinists who can operate the new, computer-programmed, robotic assembly lines that build cars, turbines, generators, steel and iron plumbing products, armaments, and shipping and packing equipment. There may be as many as 600,000 unfilled manufacturing jobs of this type, but compared with their European counterparts, American companies have shown little willingness to invest in training workers to fill these positions.

At last a small group of employers are importing the Northern European apprenticeship model to the United States. These programs combine classroom learning, typically at community colleges, with paid worksite training, and guarantee successful graduates a job. This is the sort of meaningful, fairly compensated work experience that is almost impossible to come by in our loosely regulated American internship culture yet is built into the educational systems of nations like Germany and Switzerland, where youth unemployment is far lower than it is in the United States.