College, college, college. Education, education, education. That is the message sent to every highschool student. “To survive in the world, you need a degree!” “You can’t get a good job without another two to eight years of school, at least!” So they say. What about all those students pressured into mountains of debt for degrees they don’t care about or will never be able to find a job for in this market? Or how about all those young women giving up their best childbearing years to “find meaning in life” and then send their estranged kids to daycare? Okay, this really wasn’t supposed to be a rant on college, but it does lead in to the topic on my mind – apprenticeship.
Apprenticeship is an old-school method of obtaining advanced training toward a specific career. That used to be the most common method of career development. Aside from certain trades and midwifery, I can think of no other jobs in which apprenticeship is an approved training method, which is quite disapppointing to say the least.
Apprenticeship is time-consuming like college, but it offers advantages that college cannot. For one, you don’t waste your time on preliminary schooling for topics completely unrelated to the job you want to learn. Instead you can devote your time and energy to gaining knowledge and learning skills that directly apply to what you need to know.
Two, it is almost always more cost-efficient. For example, the last time I checked, one midwifery school would run me up an easy $30,000. Yet if I were to pursue an apprenticeship in my area, it would only cost me gas, food, books, and the necessary equipment a midwife needs. It might still cost me a couple or more grand, but that’s more reasonable in my case, then getting a loan for $30,000 that I would only be able to pay off slowely as I gained clientelle.
Third, an apprenticeship offers you direct, one-on-one mentorship. You are given hands-on opportunities to learn and when you have questions they will be answered. As you learn, you are given more responsibility until you are able to work on your own, or you are able to pass necessary exams.
And fourth, apprenticeships are far more likely to be family-friendly. An apprentice is expected to be fully commited to her education, s/he must do the time and put as much effort as possible into meeting the standards set by the preceptor. Yet if your child gets sick, you may not be able to make up for a college class (or more) while your apprenticeship work may simply be delayed, without a grade loss.
Apprenticeship is truly a lost art. Why can’t a person learn how to be a cook, teacher, lawyer, doctor, an office manager, or anything else by way of apprenticeship? With national exams, code inspection laws, and reputations themselves being useful to ensure safety and satisfaction, whose to say apprenticeship is any less effective at training the work force?
FYI, I do not currently have a midwife preceptor, although I would love to have one, but apprenticeship is still near to my heart and deserves to be spoken for. As midwives like to say:
Each one, Teach one!
One generation teaching the next. I like that.