Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships

Have to hat tip +Foo Quuxman on this one.

The article in question deals with a rise in apprenticeships – which even without reading the article immediately brought several things to mind, mostly tangental to the article.

One – “skin in the game”. It’s brought up in the article, and is a fantastic point. Stepping back a bit, this applies to everyone involved in an apprenticeship. It’s also antifragile.

I know people in several technical fields who love the high school students they get as interns, and wish they could take them on as apprentices instead of having to un-train them after college, to learn the real job. Where in the past, I’d figured that college was at least useful for STEM, these days, beyond resources available that may be expensive to gather, to give hands-on experience,  even in a number of STEM fields a college degree is becoming less useful.

What does college offer, say, an architect, that an apprenticeship cannot? Especially if they already keep a spare workstation for interns, they already have the computers, software licenses, plotters, and experienced people who can pass on knowledge.

Ditto a software development shop. Courses on basic theory can be taken as needed, but a lot of programmers are still effectively self-taught.

Better yet, in an apprenticeship, the people learning get to work on real projects.

But that’s not what makes it antifragile.

The apprentice, as more than an intern (and since technical fields, unlike most of the entertainment biz, pay their interns), would make enough to get by rather than be paying for the privilege. He doesn’t accumulate a huge vulnerability in case there’s any hiccups down the road. For the employer, he would get to skip the time required to untrain a college grad. There’s constant growth and feedback.

Both could quit if they realize it’s not working out, without, again, racking up a huge, all-cost investment in anything.

The core principle of antifragility is to act in a way that minimizes the harm if things go badly, but gives you a significant benefit if they go well.

In short, there are a number of technical fields that, if it were not for a de-facto a requirement to have a degree for licensing, a system of apprenticeships and qualification exams for certifications (if the person wants to claim membership in a professional standards organization) would be all that is needed.

After all, if the employer signs off on a design by their apprentice before declaring them graduated, it’s his skin in the game, and name on the line.

About Last Redoubt

Ex nuke mechanic, jack of all trades.