I want to be a designer. The problem? I have very little education and experience in design. Why? Because I’m not qualified to get experience or education in design.
But, I’m smart, a fast learner, a hard worker and eager to dive into the world of design. And, I’m not completely unqualified either. I have educated myself on design principles, thinking and developed skills in the field as much as I can with the resources I have. I am ready, now, to help learn and grow in a real-world setting.
Understandably so, companies are hesitant to hire someone like myself. I have no proven track record of design work and my Social Policy degree just doesn’t stack up against someone from a prestigous art school. I want to tell them “If you’d just take a chance on me and teach me I’ll show you that I can be just as good as other interns. I might not have the same experience but I have just as much potential. I’m a good investment.”
This is where apprenticeships come in. I understand the commitment that an apprenticeship would be for an employer. I can hear them saying, “So, I’m supposed to pay them AND teach them how to do their job?” Well…yes.
Here’s why. Companies are constantly training young employees and showing them the ropes of their systems and ways of doing things. In many cases, young workers have to unlearn or relearn skills they got in the classroom in order to work in the way a specific company wants them to. So, why not just start fresh? Get someone with some basic skills, a good work ethic and a willingness to learn and teach them exactly how you want them to do their job. You can pay them less and they’re likely to work harder than a recent grad who thinks they’re (pardon my french) hot shit. In just a year or so, you’re likely to have a worker who performs well and is eager to continue growing in the company. You’ll have a worker willing to do the grunt work to get to do what they really want to do. In the meantime, you’ll have someone around to do all the stuff you don’t want to do. An apprentice is a long-term investment with short term benefits.
I guess this is all to say I think there needs to be options to gain skills and experience outside of schooling and competitive internships (which just confirm the inequities in higher ed). An apprenticeship seems like a pretty great way to do that.