VOICES: Apprenticeships address “exposure gap” for students

Apprenticeship Week shouldn’t have to exist. The fact this is even a thing highlights how much work there is to be done!

Instead, we should regularly highlight apprenticeships and broadcast their transformative power year-round. These conversations should be sewn into the fabric of everyday education.

Talk to any of our local companies, and they’ll highlight how workforce is a major priority. There’s both an urgent, short-term need to fill openings and a longer-term imperative to strengthen our local talent pipeline. Our community needs a solution that addresses both of these challenges. Apprenticeships succeed at doing this. Through the realistic elements of formal apprenticeships, they are effective and accessible to multiple levels of our community.

With Intel and Honda investing heavily in our state, there’s a lot to get excited about. These partners will have a profound impact on our community. We are working to translate that momentum into tangible ways that we can welcome industry partners into the K-12 space that will benefit both the industry and our students’ futures.

What many people mistakenly label as a “talent gap” is actually an “exposure gap.” Research consistently shows there’s an enormous disconnect between exposure and skills. This exposure gap directly translates into fewer students venturing into in-demand careers. This is an opportunity to explore how we highlight careers to students and how we bolster work-based learning like internships and apprenticeships that help us attack that exposure gap and strengthen our local talent pipeline.

Thankfully, we have strong partners in our region leading the way to a more inclusive economy with more accessible career paths for our community’s students.

As Workforce Director at Montgomery County Educational Service Center, I help connect our schools to partners through our region’s Three-Star Business Advisory Council. We are dedicated to connecting local schools with partners from higher education, industry, non-profits, the military, and community groups. Our efforts include supporting our region’s schools as they creatively extend resources, apprenticeships, and other opportunities to students in partnership with those regional partners.

All this month and throughout the school year, we have partners from our local Construction Builders Association and the Associated Builders and Contractors hosting opportunities to engage students about the catalytic power of apprenticeships in the skilled trades.

We’re blessed as a region to have so many partners working with our schools and families to create onramps to apprenticeships while raising awareness about careers in many of our in-demand sectors.

These partners are not the only ones with the responsibility to act. If you’re interested in helping raise awareness about the skilled trades while anchoring more young people to our region, visit the following resources to find local opportunities to share with members of our community:

  • Daytonapprenticeships.org: An excellent one-stop shop for all things skilled trades apprenticeships with the help of our local unions.
  • ovcef.org: Our Ohio Valley Associated Builders and Contractors run a registered apprenticeship program with 235 students currently enrolled.

Bryan Stewart serves as Workforce Director at the Montgomery County Educational Service Center.

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