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Apprenticeship Programs

On the job training in exchange for work has its beginning in approximately 2000 B.C. (organized apprenticeship) for scribes in Egypt where work was organized in such a way that basic knowledge was developed in a classroom setting and developed on the job.

Apprenticeship is training a new generation a skilled craft by experienced practitioners who have mastered the craft. Apprentices (in early language they were called "prentices") build their careers from apprenticeships. Most of their training is done on the job while working for an employer who helps the apprentices learn their trade.

The system of apprenticeship in the later Middle Ages were supervised by craft guilds and town governments. A master craftsman was entitled to employ young people as an inexpensive form of labor in exchange for providing formal training in the craft.

Apprenticeship came to American by way of England, where it was the first step on the road to economic independence. Nowadays, apprentices are members of a production force as they train on the job and in the classroom.

Annually there are nearly on half a million registered apprentices in training in American industries. They are learning under the guidance of experienced industry professionals in such skilled occupations as computer operator, machinist, bricklayer, dental laboratory technician, tool and dye maker, electrician, drafter, electronic technician, operating engineer and maintenance mechanic. Governmental regulation and the licensing of polytechnics and vocational education formalized and bureaucratized the details of apprenticeship.

The first legislation in the U.S. to promote an organized system of apprenticeship was enacted in Wisconsin in 1911. The law placed apprenticeship under the jurisdiction of an industrial commission. This followed the enactment of state legislation requiring all apprentices to attend classroom instruction five hours a week in addition to on the job training.

The Fitzgerald Act of 1937 set the pattern for today's system of Federal Government assistance in apprenticeship programs. The Federal Committee on Apprenticeship was reorganized and enlarged to include equal representation of employers and labor, plus a representative of the U.S. Office of Education. The Apprentice Training Service (now the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training) was established as the national administrative agency in the Department of Labor to carry out the objectives of the law, guided by the recommendations of the Federal Committee on Apprenticeship.

Since 1937, the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training has worked closely with employer and labor groups, vocational schools, state apprenticeship agencies, and miscellaneous others who work with apprenticeship programs in U.S. industry.

Certificates of Completion

When apprentices finish their training, they receive certificates of Completion Of Apprenticeship. These are issued by the state apprenticeship agencies by the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training in accordance with its recommended standards.
Basic standards for apprenticeship

Programs registered by the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training must ensure that:

  • Apprentice's progress, both in job performance and related instruction, is evaluated periodically and appropriate records are maintained.
  • Program includes organized instruction designed to provide apprentices with knowledge and technical subjects related to their trade. A minimum of 144 hours per year is normally considered necessary.
  • Proper supervision of on-the-job training with adequate facilities to train apprentices is insured
  • Successful completions are recognized.
  • The starting age of an apprentice is not less than 16 years of age.
  • There is a progressively increasing schedule of wages.
  • There is a schedule of work processes in which an apprentice is to receive training and experience on the job.
  • There is employee - employer cooperation.
  • There is full and fair opportunity to apply for apprenticeship.
  • There is no discrimination in any phase of selection, employment, or training.

Looking Forward

Rapid changes in the industrial system require skilled workers who are able to carry out technical specifications and who can supervise less skilled members of the work force. National projections of skilled worker requirements prepared by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, indicate a rise in the number of skilled workers from 11 million in 1980 to 14 million in 1990. Apprenticeship has served in many periods of history. Today it's clear that this method for teaching and learning skills remains one of the best ways of training new professionals.


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