Tulane VISTA Blog

Fighting Poverty with Passion

Field Report: Old Word Given New Meaning, Apprentice – Omote Ekwotafia

Apprentice seems like an old world word to me; it conjures up images of a 19th century youth covered in soot as he works alongside the town blacksmith. For a very long time, and before a certain reality television show, which really seems to have nothing to do with apprenticeship, I had only ever heard the word in Victorian-Era novels. In actuality, it is quite common in modern technical trades like engineering and carpentry, but it’s often discussed like the wayward brother we don’t mention at family dinners for fear of upsetting the folks. Research suggests that we should definitely mention the wayward brother! In fact, he is not wayward at all— just a little misunderstood. In a recent issue brief, Cowen Institute shines a light on just how beneficial apprenticeships are to young people and what it could do for New Orleans as a whole.

In New Orleans, we have the highest rate of youth ages 16-24 who are not working or in school; these “opportunity” youth represent a chance for a future that could be, where all youth are plugged into their community and local economy. Considering this fact, it makes sense that more and more apprenticeships are popping up along the city landscape. Apprenticeships offer young people an alternative to traditional education; they provide on the job training and allow the first steps to what could be a lengthy and successful career.

Just a little over three months ago President Obama proclaimed Nov. 1-7, 2015 National Apprenticeship Week in order to “support and encourage apprenticeship programs that will help rebuild our middle class” and “rededicate ourselves to educating more of our people, retraining our workforce, and renewing our nation’s promise to put the American dream within the reach of the determined.” In celebration of apprenticeship week, employers, community colleges and other groups held over 200 local events to share how it looks when apprenticeships work– and apprenticeships do work. They have a proven record of success in other states and overseas; it’s definitely worth looking into this practical way to tap into our city’s potential. Learn more about apprenticeships in Cowen Institute’s November brief, or their informational video below.

Interested in more from Cowen Institute? Read the most recent publications on the FAFSA and Louisiana High School Performance.

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