In 2016, Colorado sent a delegation of the state’s political, educational, and business leaders to Switzerland to explore that country’s apprenticeship system. They discovered that in Switzerland, 70% of students participate in apprenticeship programs and 40% of businesses hire apprentices. Being an apprentice is not, for these students, necessarily a deviation from higher education, but rather an applied learning experience that enhances their academic studies and fosters skills and experiences that prepare them for professional life after college.

Upon their return, the group launched CareerWise, Colorado’s Modern Youth Apprenticeship program. High school students can take advantage of this opportunity to work in a field of their interest, get paid a salary that amounts to around $11,000 over three years, and earn college credit. Current apprentices also cite the program as fostering professional skills such as communication and responsibility. Being entrusted with purposeful tasks imbues them with a sense of confidence and gives their work meaning.

What impact do you think apprenticeships can have on students and companies? Add your voice to the discussion on Vialogues.

Excerpts from the discussion:

@01:04 Ollie Hopper: Something like this changes the education-then-career dynamic. Why not education-and-career simultaneously? They can interact while you go. I honestly think that would lead to a much richer experience for a lot of people who already know what they want to do.

@01:44 Anna Curry: Understanding the skills needed to succeed in a workplace would probably be useful when choosing classes. That experience would make it much easier to identify gaps in their knowledge compared to a student who has no idea what to expect after college.