Building Rural Talent with Apprenticeships

America’s rural regions often have a tough time developing home grown talent.  Because these places are smaller with a smaller absolute number of employers, they often lack the diverse array of internships, externships, and other career-building opportunities that are common in larger urban areas. As a result, younger rural residents (or adults) may not get the full range of career-building opportunities available to their urban or suburban counterparts.  Ivy Love, a researcher at New America, presents what I think is an excellent idea for addressing this challenge:  Apprenticeships!  This work-based learning approach is more typically considered in sectors like construction or manufacturing, but there’s no reason why it can’t be applied more broadly.  Under Love’s proposal, workforce development agencies would deploy their apprenticeship funds to help support salaries for people working in host of sectors, such as insurance, healthcare, finance, IT and many more.  This broader take on apprenticeships offers many benefits.  Younger workers get career training, firms get new workers and new ideas, and the companies provide essential services to their rural communities as well.   As Love notes, this step can happen today under current law–all that’s needed is a willingness to try new approaches.  This is an excellent idea that can take the popular concept of apprenticeships and make them applicable and attractive to a wider range of communities and industries.

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