July Jobs Numbers Make Case for Improving Apprenticeship Programs

By Tom Allison

While the national unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent in July, the rate for young adults ages 18-to-34 rose slightly to 6.9 percent (seasonably adjusted) from 6.8 percent in June. Notably, sectors with high prevalence of apprenticeships saw significant job growth. Those sectors include:

  • The construction industry added 14,000 new jobs in July, including 9,400 specialty trade contracting jobs.
  • Nearly 50,000 new jobs were created in health care and social assistance, including 17,000 new hospital jobs and over 5,000 in social assistance.
  • There were also 11,000 new jobs in durable good manufacturing (all estimates seasonably adjusted).

Among the other unadjusted unemployment estimates, we see that young people of color continue to struggle to find a job despite the fact that our national unemployment rate has fallen by more than half since the depths of the recession:

  • Young Latinos: 7.5 percent
  • Young Asian or Pacific Islanders: 6.0 percent
  • Young African Americans 12.2 percent

jobs july


Last week’s jobs report coincides with Young Invincibles’ release of a new report on apprenticeships, debunking myths about the program and making suggestions for improving the system. The job growth in sectors key for apprenticeships reinforces our recommendations to improve our apprenticeship system. Conducted in the Chicagoland area where young people face some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, the study highlights three key misconceptions that Millennials hold about apprenticeships: that apprenticeship programs don’t currently exist in their communities, that apprenticeships don’t pay, and that participating in an apprenticeship means never receiving a college degree.

Based on these misconceptions about apprenticeships, as well as stated job preferences among Millennials, we advance six recommendations for building and branding youth-friendly apprenticeship programs.

When it comes to program structure, we recommend expanding pre-apprenticeship and job shadowing opportunities, creating more apprenticeships that provide the option to receive college credentials, and starting apprentices in cohorts. On the marketing side, we suggest being more explicit about wages, building innovative social media marketing strategies, and using near-peers as ambassadors.  Doing so will both build a broader base of Millennial support for these programs and ensure that those opportunities fit the needs of today’s young people.

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Thanks for the Degree! Now About that Career…

By Jerusalem Solomon, VCU Senior

The years you spend in college are tough, but it’s all worth it when you get that degree career you oh-so-desire, right?  Well, maybe. The truth is, only a lucky few get their dream job, immediately after graduation.  Others spend a good chunk of time on their job search before they land that entry-level position in their field of study.

Don’t believe me?  While working at a restaurant, I realized almost half of the serving staff consisted of VCU college graduates with degrees spanning from Biology to Religious Studies.  It is slowly becoming a reality that after four years of college, countless hours of studying, and thousands of dollars spent on a promising education, students could be stuck at a job that doesn’t require a college degree.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/youth.nr0.htm), the number of 16 to 24 year olds with employment has grown substantially between April and July 2012 by 2.1 million people. That’s great! But why are young people still unsatisfied? Simple, they aren’t getting the jobs (http://younginvincibles.org/2012/12/roller-coasterof-jobs/) they paid for.

When Jessica, another VCU graduate, walked across the stage in 2010, she wasn’t expecting that it would take two years and more than 500 job applications to get to three part-time jobs that hardly pay anything.

In her job search, Jessica hit the road blocks we all do, such as not having sufficient experience or having to compete with those who have master’s degrees and are struggling to find the same entry-level positions. Here are a few things these two graduates want us to learn from them:

  1. Get your internships while you’re in college, even if they aren’t paid. Most places can require anywhere from one to five years of experience before they even think of hiring a candidate. When you’re trying to get a job, you might not be able to afford taking an unpaid internship. You’re in the real world now, buddy.
  2. Combine your passions with work. When all else failed, Jessica decided to take matters into her own hands and is now in the process of starting her own design and photography business. Maybe we could take a page from her book!
  3. Networking and branding yourself (http://younginvincibles.org/2012/11/marathon-training-and-job-searching-both-are-mentally-exhausting-and-awful/) are a must. Remember, looking for a job, is a full time job in itself. Invest in yourself, and others will too!

Good luck fellow job-seekers!




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