Monday, August 4, 2008

Green Apprenticeships

"Learning alongside an expert is the world's oldest form of skill development."

Harvey Meyer, "Learning by doing: Grow your own skilled workers with an apprenticeship program," The Costco Connection, August 2008, Vol 23, No 8.

Who would have thought I would run across an article advocating apprenticeships when I glanced through my Costco lifestyle magazine in search of knowledge. I hope their profitability problems don't doom this valuable piece of junk mail.

And yes, we do have a education and skill development model in the U.S. that works by engaging employers, mapping skills and career progression, articulating industry standards, and linking formal education with on-the-job learning. Of course, I'm talking about apprenticships. See: the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Apprenticeships.

A few challenges: The best apprenticeship programs for me are union sponsored, and, unfortunately, rates of unionization are going down. Union apprenticeship programs include an essential funding mechanism supported by business and workers that supports training and stabilizes the operation of the programs. This is important because sometimes training programs spend too much time identifying, obtaining, and integrating multiple funding souces to survive. Union contractual relationships protect career paths. Okay,not everybody likes unions and union apprenticeships have been discriminatory or at least not very open in the past. A lot of that is changing across the country.

LA is a good example. There, potential also exists for green apprenticeships according to S.C.O.P.E. (Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education) in their report: A Greener Future for Los Angeles: Principles to Ensure and Equitable Green Economy.

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