June 9, 2020
"Apprenticeship is an education strategy, but it’s also fundamentally an employment strategy," said Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education and Skills at New America. "The virtual strategy has to be for a real job," meaning virtual apprenticeships should come with the same good wages and W-2 status as in-person options.
Virtual apprenticeships could broaden access, but they would have to be done right.
"I don’t think it’s as easy as, 'OK, you were going to do this in the workplace and now you’ll do it at home and it’s a better fit,'" said Taylor White, a senior policy adviser for K-12 education and workforce at New America. "It would be naïve for us to assume that the transition is so easy."
Virtual apprenticeships would require technological supports to truly broaden access, she said. The Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies found that about 32 million people aged 16 and up lack digital literacy skills, according to Lul Tesfai, a senior policy analyst at the Center on Education and Skills at New America.
"Do people have the skills to access online learning platforms?" Tesfai said. "For those that don’t, it’s really hard to build digital literacy in a remote environment."
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