Apprenticeships can be the start of great career paths. Can they be revived?

How history explains America’s struggle to revive apprenticeships

Donald Trump is the latest in a long line of presidents to announce ambitious plans to slash the cost of college and create millions of new apprenticeships. But, as I argue in a forthcoming history on the 19th-century origins of student debt, American students have repeatedly rejected attempts to mainstream vocational education for over a century because ‘career courses’ often preclude them from aspirational jobs in technology, finance, law, and medicine.

If Americans are to embrace apprenticeships, I believe coveted Silicon Valley companies, financial institutions, hospitals, and law firms must hire graduates who train outside of full-time academic programs.

Indeed, the director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce, Anthony Carneval, doubts that Donald Trump can meet his apprenticeship goal given that “the model in America is ‘high school to Harvard.’”

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