WhatWeLove: Colorado's Apprenticeship Model

What do Switzerland and Colorado have in common? Hint: It’s more than skiing.

Two thirds of students in Switzerland enter an apprenticeship program after high school instead of college. We love this. In recent years, Colorado has taken to this model through their CareerWise program.

Check out some of my favorite quotes and articles on this issue below.


Degrees vs Skills

“Because public education in the United States is geared toward degree attainment and not skill acquisition, employers see a degree as a proxy for career readiness when, in fact, it doesn’t necessarily mean a job seeker has the ability to collaborate, solve problems or succeed at other tasks that require complex intellectual skills to complete.

The traditional four-year college model is as antiquated as its K-12 precursor, attendees agreed. Even as they are hobbled by enormous debts, graduates don’t necessarily possess the traits that assure them a well-paid job.” - Robots, Inequality, Apprenticeships: If America Is to Usher In an ‘Age of Agility’ in Education, Experts Say We Must Talk Less About Schools — and More About Students (74million.org)


Changing a Culture

“Roueche [a student] belongs to the inaugural class of apprentices in a Colorado program, started last summer, called CareerWise. It represents Colorado’s attempt to create an unusual, statewide youth-apprenticeship system. “This program has more scale than almost any other broad apprenticeship that I know of,” Harry Holzer, a public-policy professor at Georgetown University, told me. Its goals are ambitious: CareerWise’s founders are trying to both prepare today’s youth for well-paid jobs in the industries of the future and to change a culture that insists every 18-year-old should graduate high school and go straight to college.” - The Swiss Secret to Jump-Starting Your Career (The Atlantic)


“I’m a Professional.”

“The Business Experiential Learning Commission – a state effort – travelled to Switzerland in 2016 to learn about the country’s successful apprenticeship model and find ways to adapt what’s working there for Colorado businesses, communities, and students. Since then, the Commission has developed a work-based learning system – including apprenticeships – that prepares residents to meet the demands of today’s economy.

Sierra learned about those demands firsthand – among them, communication and collaboration. “Looking back even in pictures — even the way I held myself — to seeing it now, I see how I’ve drastically changed,” said Sierra. “I’ve seen it in myself.” After a challenging start at Pinnacol, Sierra now identifies herself as a “professional.” - #RethinkSchool: Struggling Student Discovers Path through Colorado Apprenticeship Program (HomeRoom, Official Blog of the US Department of Education).


Now, if only we could find a way to fund a “work trip to Switzerland”…