Internships vs. Apprenticeships
By Arnold Kling
In America, many schools and parents and students will speak out strongly in favor of strong commitments to “community service” and volunteer projects and unpaid short-term internships. But many of these same people tend to recoil if the discussion turns to devoting similar amounts of time to a paid apprenticeship. As an American, it’s hard to imagine a Swiss-style system where 70% of students, spread across the distribution of incomes and education levels, are in apprenticeship programs. It’s hard to think about apprenticeships that would spread across a much wider range of jobs and industries than we currently see in the U.S. Such a change would require a substantial adjustment from firms, existing employees, schools, government, and students themselves. But the current hand-off from the education system to the job market isn’t going too well for a lot of Americans at a wide array of skill levels. Maybe apprenticeships could help.
There may be a trade-off between practicality and conveying status. Apprenticeships offer the former, but internships offer the latter.