Internships vs. Apprenticeships
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.