How Do We Build an Apprentice Nation? with Ryan Craig

In this week’s episode of Trending in Education, Ryan Craig, author of the new book Apprentice Nation: How the “Earn and Learn” Alternative to Higher Education Will Create a Stronger and Fairer America, joins host Mike Palmer to dive into how “earn and learn” models like apprenticeships can bridge the growing experience gap facing young workers seeking their first good job.

Craig makes a compelling case for why apprenticeships should be a mainstream option for high school graduates, not just a pathway for trade occupations. He argues apprenticeships can provide the work experience and skills training needed to prepare young people for high-demand roles in fields like cybersecurity, healthcare, and software development while presenting a less risky alternative to the loan-based approach that predominates in higher education.

The discussion reveals how apprenticeships have languished in the US compared to countries like Switzerland and Germany. Craig advocates passionately for greater government investment and support for intermediaries that can set up and run apprenticeship programs at scale. Without this kind of backing, companies lack incentives and capacity to provide these earn-and-learn opportunities. The lively exchange offers thought-provoking ideas around closing both the skills gap and the growing “experience gap” faced by college graduates who aren’t graduating ready to work. Craig warns that employers are increasingly expecting entry-level hires to already have real work experience. Apprenticeships and other earn-and-learn models can help bridge this divide.

If you care about creating new pathways to economic mobility and opportunity for young Americans in the digital age, you won’t want to miss this forward-thinking discussion. Tune in to hear Craig’s compelling vision for how an “Apprentice Nation” could transform education and workforce training.

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