New Study from Center for Public Education Links Apprenticeships to 21st Century Skills

October 16, 2018

Alexandria, Va., (October 16, 2018)— The Center for Public Education (CPE), a research arm of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) announced today the release of A New Look at Apprenticeship: Linking School to 21st Century Skills, which examines apprenticeships, finding them to be an effective, key element in helping students acquire the knowledge and skills needed to be successful after high school graduation.

“Schools constantly need to expose students to a variety of programs that ready them for college, the workplace and a successful community life,” said NSBA Executive Director and CEO Thomas J. Gentzel. “While apprenticeships have had a long history of developing trade skills for young people, they should now be viewed for their role in building 21st century skills and narrowing the skilled labor gap in our ever-evolving technological world.” 

In its new report, CPE explores apprenticeships’ impact on developing workplace skills, finding that the apprenticeship model—career building and life-long learning—can be effective. CPE also found that modern apprenticeships have been shown to lower unemployment among youth, produce high-skilled workers who meet industry needs, and foster meaningful and lifelong learning.

The increasingly challenging and competitive job market of tomorrow requires educators and policymakers alike to focus on enhancing students’ educational opportunities. In examining the data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC), CPE suggest school districts, when developing apprenticeship programs and partnerships, consider the following:

  • Find ways to make school more relevant to the job market;
  • broaden the scope of career choices for students;
  • help establish a continuous pipeline of high-skilled workers to the job market;
  • consider partnerships with community colleges and local businesses; and
  • better link school learning to 21st century skills.

“Apprenticeship programs in the 21st century help students acquire not only occupational skills, but also communication and collaboration skills that employers want and need,” said Jinghong Cai, Ph.D. Research Analyst at the Center for Public Education and author of the report.

A New Look at Apprenticeship: Linking School to 21st Century Skills, by the Center for Public Education is available at

The National School Boards Association (NSBA) is the leading advocate for public education and supports equity and excellence in public education through school board leadership. NSBA believes education is a civil right necessary to the dignity and freedom of the American people, and all children should have equal access to an education that maximizes his or her individual potential. The association represents state school boards associations and their more than 90,000 local school board members throughout the U.S. 

The Center for Public Education (CPE) is a national resource for credible and practical information about public education and its importance to the well-being of our nation. CPE provides up-to-date research, data, and analysis on current education issues and explores ways to improve student achievement and engage public support for public schools. CPE is an initiative of the National School Boards Association. 


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