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Last Updated on July 4, 2019

What Is an Apprenticeship (And How Does It Benefit Your Career)?

What Is an Apprenticeship (And How Does It Benefit Your Career)?

A few months after graduating high school, my mother decided to entrust me into the services of a well-known hair stylist in my neighborhood. Her reasoning was that I’d fall in love with the art of making others look beautiful and combine it with whatever career I choose to settle in.

It was the perfect dream; a college-educated journalist with a hair styling side-gig. My pathway to this dream was an apprenticeship program.

In this article, I’ll talk about what an apprenticeship really is and how you can benefit your career from it.

What Is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is a system that allows you to get paid while you’re trained for the skills needed to succeed in your career.

Call it what you want; skilled-trade, blue-collar jobs, vocational education, or the career path less traveled, apprenticeship can be your ticket to your dream job.

Not only does it allow you to step into the occupation of your dreams, you actually earn a wage while learning on the job, and can decide if it is the right fit for you without investing thousands like you normally would at a traditional college.

Apprenticeships vs Internships

What comes close to apprenticeship is internships but with a difference. While internships are usually set up as a way to practice what you’ve learned in school before you become employed, with apprenticeship, you’re already a worker. You’re getting paid to learn. This means less risk for student loans and other college-related expenses to accumulate only to discover that you have an unclear career path.

Apprenticeships also give you longer term, real on-the-job experiences which are directly tied to what you learn in the classroom. These training are very structured and by the time you are done with your learning, you’re almost guaranteed to be hired on as a full-time worker.

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Internships on the other hand are very short-term and despite the fact that you do walk away with lifelong skills, they do not always lead to job offers.

Some internships are unpaid or might give you a stipend in exchange for you time. Apprenticeships, however, due to their competitive nature, are similar to regular employment. They pay more than internships and some programs attract top candidates with benefit packages including health insurance, paid vacations, paid holidays, and pension plans.

Misconception About Being an Apprentice

It is no secret that apprenticeships are less popular than they used to.

For some occupations, becoming an apprentice was the only way to pass the knowledge and skills down to the next generation as there aren’t many colleges that offer credit courses. Careers in the shipbuilding, carpentry, welding, plumbing, and textile industries all have history dating back to apprenticeship and family traditions.

Today, we are seeing an impressive comeback of these programs and classes but with more sophistication.

Unfortunately there are some barriers to apprenticeship regaining its lost glory as:

It’s a slave-master relationship.

When the word apprentice is uttered, the first image that pops up is that of an unfortunate or reluctant person forced to wash, clean, cook, and run errands just to have his or her master pass on trade skills.

Many apprenticeship programs are registered and monitored to ensure the welfare of apprentices. The fear that you would be taken advantage of is unfounded.

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Labor laws are followed and respected, and like any other workplace, grievances can be filed if your rights have been infringed upon.

Apprentices are uneducated.

There is still a recurring myth that apprentices are sent to “hole in the wall” shops where masters drill all the mechanics of a job into your skull.

Today, apprenticeship programs are legally recognized and have agencies that regulate their operation. Some programs are not only more selective than most Ivy colleges, they are tuition-free and once accepted, graduates can go on to receive associates or bachelors degrees through partnerships with universities.[1]

Apprenticeship programs provide you an alternative pathway to college education and works for most industries. For instance, they prepare you for high-demand occupations in healthcare like being a pharmacy technician, a paramedic, or an emergency medical technician (EMT).

You can’t make a living as a “blue collar” worker.

While it is almost inconceivable that an apprentice would earn the same wage as a physician, most apprentices go on to build financially stable lives.

But the fact that being an apprentice is afterthought in the event of failure is a false stereotype.

Laurent Camera, education reporter for U.S. News writes that:[2]

“According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average wage for an individual who has completed an apprenticeship is $50,000, which over a lifetime can add up to approximately $300,000 more in wages and benefits compared with their peers.”

This is definitely a far cry from the poverty-stricken stories you hear about apprentices.

How Apprenticeship Can Bring Value to Your Career

So, how does apprenticeship benefit your career? Here you will find the value of it:

1. You get very close to what you REALLY want to do in your chosen field.

Unlike certain internships where you’re sometimes relegated to grunt work and would need to seek permission before you could get close to the interesting parts, you’re fully thrust into your field of work from day one.

With this early involvement, you get the sense of fulfillment faster than you would’ve if you waited 4 years to experience what your career entails.

At the same time, you also have the chance to back out from a career if you discover that you’ve quickly fallen out of love with your chosen field.

For example, remember my brief stint as a beauty apprentice? It didn’t work out. After about 6 months of reporting to a hair salon and learning the intricacies of braiding, I quit.

I soon discovered that I didn’t love my job and not only saved myself from exorbitant fees at a 2-year beauty college, I saved my employer some precious time in the process.

So, how do you get REALLY close to apprenticeship opportunities?

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  • Visit community and technical colleges. The best move is to visit your state technical colleges. Most times, these institutions have partnerships with local employers who systematically feed graduates into their workforce through a structured training.
  • Visit your local library. Another equally good move is to visit your local library and ask to speak with a job specialist. Libraries have always been underrated but is a goldmine for opportunities in career development.
  • Search for apprenticeship opportunities online. We’re no longer dealing with “hole in the wall” shops. Most employers have taken their apprenticeship programs online and will publicly provide contact information should you wish to speak with a live person.

2. Employers crave loyalty and dedication. Apprenticeship programs highlight these qualities in you.

Being an apprentice builds character in ways ordinary jobs or internships cannot. It takes anywhere from 2 to 5 years to successfully graduate from a decent apprenticeship program. That’s a lot of time dedicated to honing your craft, gaining highly specialized skills, and building your career from entry-level to middle class income without job-hopping.

While the nature of apprenticeships itself dissuades job-hopping due to the lengthy period, it takes commitment, patience and perseverance to stick with a 4-year apprenticeship program to receive professional certifications.

This allow companies to look inside the organization for top-performing employees who can be trained for leadership and managerial roles or promoted in times of growth and expansion.

3. You can bridge the “skills gap” in the economy.

Most employers bemoan the lack of qualified candidates in the labor market due to factors such as weak educational programs, lackluster internship experiences, and poor job fit.

Other times, it’s due to a shortage of highly-skilled workers and a surplus of low-skilled workers. Upskilling with apprenticeship can solve this problem.

We are already seeing reports of a likely shortage of approximately 40 million high- skilled workers and 45 million medium-skill workers by 2020.[3] By focusing on specific skill-set, employers have exactly what they want at the right time and how they want it.

If you are currently employed and would love to gain additional certifications, ask your employer if there are work-and-learn programs that can help you bridge this gap. Most companies are willing invest in employees’ professional development if there is ambition and commitment displayed from the employee.

The Bottom Line

You are just be one step away from the career of your dreams. There are apprenticeship programs out there looking for enthusiastic workers, and you might be the perfect fit.

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Featured photo credit: Jonathan Weiss via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Margaret Olatunbosun

Creative coach who teaches high-achievers how to thrive at the intersection of creativity, passion, and profit.

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Last Updated on September 10, 2019

How Continuous Improvement Can Enhance Your Personal Life

How Continuous Improvement Can Enhance Your Personal Life

Kaizen is the Japanese philosophy and practice of continuous improvement. This concept of continuous improvement was first conceived in the USA during WW2.

To maintain the production levels and meet demand, the industry had to come up with a system that would allow for incremental progress in production rather than no progress at all – which was very much the reality the industry was facing.

This concept of consistent incremental improvement proved to be a huge success and saved the US manufacturing industry from a rapid decline.

After WW2, as part of the rebuild programme for Japan, the Japanese were invited to visit manufacturing plants through out the USA. The Japanese took this successful concept of continuous improvement and adapted into Kaizen.

This philosophy formed the base from which the Japanese have built a manufacturing industry that dominates the world today.

In this article, I’ll look into what continuous improvement is and how you can make use of this concept to enhance your life.

What does Kaizen (continuous improvement) have to do with you?

So what does Kaizen have to do with us? How can it help us enhance our personal lives?

“Persistence, perseverance, and continuous improvement are the ingredients for forming a successful person.” — Debasish Mridha

While Kaizen was originally developed to help businesses improve and thrive, it’s just as applicable to our personal lives.

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The Kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement I believe is a failure proof system that enables us to achieve and sustain our personal goals and dreams in life.

The concept of continuous improvement offers us a way where we can live our lives to the fullest by continuously learning, growing and thriving.

We live in a world of never ending disruption and change. By adopting the philosophy of Kaizen, we become more adaptable, flexible and resilient to dealing with the constant demands and disruptions we face in our lives.

What continuous improvement is exactly

The philosophy of Kaizen is based on the concept that instead of making big changes at once, the continuous improvement approach focuses on making small improvement over time.

Kaizen is often referred to as the “strategy for 1% gains”. It is these 1% gains that athletes focus on to improve their performance. The 1% gains are incremental and if you keep building on the 1% gains the rewards are phenomenal.

Continuous improvement is perpetual and so to maintain gains and improvement, you need to work on them continuously.

Your personal improvement journey is never finished! What this means is, if you are truly committed to philosophy of continuous improvement, you are less likely to quit because you are always in search of the next goal.

How continuous improvement empowers you

How many New Year resolutions have you made and never achieved over the years?

Unless you are one of the small minority who are goal orientated high achievers, maintaining motivation and the commitment to achieving your goals is hard work and dare I say it – with not much success – one big FAILURE after another.

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Hence, these are the reasons why New Years’ resolutions are never achieved.

Continuous improvement can help you to achieve any goals you set. If you commit to the practice of continuous improvement, your motivation to achieve your goals and aspirations in life will never die.

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” — Benjamin Franklin

You will never have to struggle with the dilemma of giving up or giving in because it all became too hard.

Your achievements and success in life will be as a result of you taking continuous incremental steps toward your goals.

Continuous improvement is not about reaching the big goals in life but about taking small steps and improving and refining along the way.

How to commit to continuous improvement

If you truly desire a successful life where you are thriving, the first thing you must do is embrace and accept that your journey of self improvement and growth will never end. It is a lifelong journey of learning.

Once you have accepted that your journey to improving your life is life long, you then follow these steps:

1. Set your goals based on the philosophy of 1% incremental achievements

Remember that setting the goal is the easy bit. Keeping motivated, focused and on track to achieving any goal is the hardest part.

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The concept of continuous improvement provides you with a system or a process that if you commit to following will enable you to confidently achieve any goal you set- you are guaranteed to win.

“Instead of trying to make radical changes in a short amount of time, just make small improvements every day that will gradually lead to the change you want. Each day, just focus on getting 1% better in whatever it is you’re trying to improve. That’s it. Just 1%.” — Brett and Kate McKay of The Art of Manliness

It might not seem like much but continuous 1% improvement/achievements every day will gradually add up to 100% and the goal is achieved!

In their book The Art Of Manliness, Brett and Kate McKay talk about how the journey of self improvement and personal growth is a lot like a rollercoaster ride – scary, exciting and with lots of ups and downs.

They believe that by following the concept of Kaizen (the 1% improvement) every day enables you to get off the roller coaster ride of feeling like a failure and being angry with yourself because you keep giving up.

2. Break down the system into small actions

Continuous improvement is a journey of personal growth where you are making long-term steady progress. It is not about random bursts of improvement with fits and starts of activity. This approach to self-improvement will not give you the sustainable long-term changes you seek to improve your life or achieve your goals.

For example, if you have huge debt and you want to pay it back but it is all too much, so you hide away from taking any action. To put the concept of continuous improvement into action, the first thing you need to do is not focus on how much you owe, instead focus on creating a system or process that enables you to pay back an incremental amount each week.

Once you have created the system, you must break down the system into small actions or behaviours with the least resistance and effort. Commit to these actions on a daily basis until your original system is habit.

Commit to paying back a realistic amount each week and then increase the amount you pay back by 1% plus every week after that. Keep going until the debt is paid off.

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3. Keep track of your 1% success

The other important factor about incremental achievement is that you must measure and keep track of your 1% successes.

Evaluating and measuring your improvements are important for your own motivation and commitment to the journey. If you are not measuring your progress, your subconscious brain will kick in and sabotage your progress by convincing you that it is all too hard and you are not making any progress at all.

Your subconsious brain only believes what you tell it. Unfortunately you have told your brain a lot of untruthful things over a long period of time about how you are a failure, not motivated and never really achieved anything in life. Your subconscious brain as a result believes all these “facts” that you have told it to be true.

Measuring and evaluating your 1% successes is key to you retraining your subconscious to believe that Yes – you can achieve your goals and succeed in life!

Focus on the progress, always

Continuous Improvement does not focus on making huge gains or big improvements all at once. Instead it focuses on long-term steady progress.

When you follow the philosophy of Continuous Improvement, you won’t radically change your life but over time with consistent and constant improvement and change, you will find that you are living your life to the fullest – empowered, resilient and thriving.

Why would you not want to embrace this philosophy of incremental improvement and growth into your personal life?

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will be a stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb.” – Sir Winston Churchill

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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