The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 67 percent of high school graduates will go to college. But nearly half of students who enter college drop out, left with debt and no diploma. Often, this debt is not a small amount of money: for the class of 2017, the average graduate borrower exited college with $28,288 in debt.
But one state agency is working to make apprenticeships popular again, saying the arrangement could help students avoid high student loan debt and get better prepared for the workforce. The Michigan Talent Investment Agency, which focuses on job programs and worker training, said placing high school graduates in apprenticeships can help them quickly obtain a full-time, competitively-paying job.
Many such opportunities can be found in IT and computer science, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, automotive, construction and business, according to the agency.
A recent survey by the agency showed that additional work needs to be done for the public to have a better understanding of the opportunities and benefits that apprenticeships and professional trade careers can offer people.
One of the top benefits of taking this path is, of course, no student loan debt. There are also more job opportunities thanks to a growing gap between the number of available skilled trade workers and jobs continuing to expand as baby boomers retire. This older demographic is the majority holder of skilled jobs not only in Michigan but also nationwide.
The organization also highlighted these apprenticeship benefits:
- Day one: employment
- Ability to start a career: often without tuition debt
- High wages: Hourly $22 to $25 per hour or $52,000 + average annual salary
- Certification: 12 to 18 months
- Education and training: typically paid by employers
In addition, a Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives Skilled Trades job report has noted that “the skilled trades provide an increasing alternative to spending a lengthy period of time earning a college degree.” For some, it may be especially appealing that skilled trade workers have wages ranging from $12 to $33 with a $21 median hourly income. This is competitive pay for a job that brings from little to zero student loan debt.
Author: Debbie Baratz
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