The following is an excerpt from the guest commentary originally published in The News-GazetteFor the full op-ed and guest appearance, please visit this link.

“Ultimately, the facts make it clear that not everyone is going to go to college. And for those who don’t, our research shows that apprenticeship programs can make a huge difference in their lifetime earnings potential, and the pool of skilled talent that is needed to make our businesses competitive. But it takes a village to prepare the next generation for the jobs of tomorrow.

We need more outreach to encourage businesses to invest in these programs, or offer tax credits to those who do. This is something that South Carolina recently tried, boosting apprenticeships by 570 percent.

We need to address the crisis of child care that is a barrier for many mothers who might otherwise be able to participate in these programs.

We can invest in pre-apprenticeship programs in high schools — particularly disadvantaged schools — to provide more skill-training opportunities for our young people. Dunbar Vocational High School in Chicago is already piloting one such program.

And finally, we need to reject counterproductive policy initiatives — such as efforts to repeal prevailing wage laws — which have proven to decimate these vital workforce training programs across the country.

Ultimately, education lies at the heart of so many of the challenges we face as a state and a country. We need to invest in providing more options that work. And it’s clear that apprenticeships more than meet that standard.”

– Frank Manzo IV, Policy Director of the Illinois Economic Policy Institute