Many high school graduates have wrongly been advised that a four-year degree is the primary way to experience true success. For too long, educational achievement has been largely defined by a four-year degree, a suit and tie position with a big city firm, and the pursuit of climbing the corporate ladder. These may be admirable, but many other paths to a satisfying career and lifestyle are pushed into the shadows with this emphasis. As a result fields like construction are suffering from the stigma that working with your hands at a skilled labor is, in some way, inferior to jobs requiring a four-year degree from a university program. According to the US Department of Education, only 35.5% of high school graduates attained a four-year college degree in 2010. So what about the majority who never acquire that college degree? How can the construction industry capitalize on the majority of high school graduates not pursing a four-year degree? Perhaps recruiting talented students out of high school apprenticeships or certification-specific programs is the answer.
For high schoolers who know they are interested in a skilled labor career, the Georgia Public School system offers an apprenticeship program for students after they turn sixteen. The Georgia Youth Apprenticeship Program requires 720 hours of on-the-job training between a student and a qualified mentor in the field of study chosen. According to the Georgia Department of Education website, a detailed work plan identifying specific work tasks that will lead to workplace competencies as well as ongoing evaluations between the school system supervisor and jobsite mentor are crucial components of the apprenticeship experience. What may be equally appealing to potential employers is that students in the apprenticeship program must