Apprenticeships not only tend to be ex-offender friendly offering second chance employment, but they are also an excellent way to learn a set of skills that are in high demand among employers. And if you’re seriously determined to find a job, entering an apprenticeship may be the way to go.
In fact, there are statistics to back that up. Human resource consulting firm ManpowerGroup, in its 2016 Talent Shortage Survey, found that of more than 42,000 employers surveyed worldwide, 40 percent are finding difficulty filling job openings, the highest number since 2007. And for the fifth straight year, the hardest jobs to fill are skilled trades.
Top 10 jobs in terms of talent shortage
- Skilled trades
- IT staff
- Sales representatives
- Accounting and finance staff
- Management executives
- Machine operators
- Office staff
This fact, if nothing else, should encourage those leaving jail or prison to consider a career in the trades. But there are also other reasons, most notably that:
- 91% of those completing an apprenticeship program gain employment.
- The average starting wage for trade union jobs is above $60,000 per year.
Apprenticeship programs can appeal to those with a variety of skills and interests and be for jobs with titles that range from boilermaker or carpenter to meat cutter or sheet metal worker.
Although the programs may last from one to six years, the average length of an apprenticeship is four years. They combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction, during which participants may learn math, drafting, how to read blueprints and other skills necessary to perform a particular job. Apprentices are paid a wage – which usually starts at 35 percent to 50 percent of a full-time union job for that industry – and receive regular pay increases during the duration of the program.
How to find an apprenticeship program
There are hundreds of apprenticeship programs across the U.S., and to find out more about those in your area, you can visit your local American Job Center or search the Internet using search words like “union apprenticeship directory.”
The results that will come up may include directories of specific trade union groups, as well as directories put together by state government agencies. Here are a few examples:
The U.S. Department of Labor maintains a list of links to all state and U.S. territory programs.
Once you decide what type of trade you might be interested in, contact your local American Job Center or a specific union office or training center in your area for the details on what to do next. Taking that first step may lead you to a new career – and a new life beyond bars.