Aug. 8, 2017
Mary Alice McCarthy was quoted in Inside Higher Ed about how American apprenticeships may differ from international programs.
Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education and Skills at New America, said it’s hard to know how transferable the findings about other countries with large apprenticeship programs are to the American context. Of apprenticeship programs, she said, “you need them to have enough general academic skills in them that people can continue to build on them. That’s probably more of a design question than something intrinsic about apprenticeship.”
There are “two competing narratives” surrounding apprenticeships, McCarthy said. She amended that slightly: “I don’t know if they’re competing. They’re almost two narratives that ignore one another. One is that apprenticeship is something you do rather than go to college. College isn’t for everyone; do an apprenticeship instead.
“The other message, though -- and that would come more from the education reform community and groups like New America -- is apprenticeship can be another form of college. It’s a different modality of higher education and it should be delivered by the higher education community, like community colleges, and it should connect to bachelor’s degrees. How can you make sure that an apprentice who’s also getting an associate’s degree can go on to get a bachelor’s degree in engineering or applied engineering?
“It’s two conversations,” McCarthy continued, “both wanting to raise up apprenticeship as a high-quality alternative to traditional college, one more focused on it being a different modality of college and the other focused on it being just a pure alternative.”