Apprenticeships used to be the way that people became masters at anything. Master craftsmen, master artisans, master chefs, and master sushi makers. This story on NPR today reminded me of the importance of apprenticeships, internships, and on the job training to further career progress. It wasn’t until reading this story that I thought about the relationship between apprenticeships and the batches of graduates from “accelerator” programs.
Today, accelerator programs are largely exclusive. In fact, their popularity has risen in part to their exclusivity and privilege. The exclusivity stems from the fact that after the period of “acceleration” is over, the ability to raise capital is much higher. After the apprenticeship, the apprentice just has a “job”, most likely for the master.Accelerators have done a great job exploiting their “artificial scarcity” to a great extent, making them highly desirable. The “masters” or “mentors” in the accelerator model differ from apprenticeships in that they are multifaceted and have a variety of different backgrounds. In an apprenticeship, usually the masters are focused uniquely on one trade.
According to the NPR story…
… apprenticeships are still fighting an image battle. Only 0.3 percent of the American workforce are apprentices, according to a report from American University economist Robert Lerman.
This sounds like the job of a great design and marketing team. Luckily, we have people on it. A project I worked on as a student in Design School called the “New Options Initiative” sponsored by the WK Kellogg foundation sought to create new alternatives for people who dropped out of school. The project recognizes that school isn’t for everyone, and we need alternative career/job paths for people that are similar to the apprenticeship model.
It’d be interesting to see what happened if we just changed the words “apprenticeship” to “accelerator“, and provided more means for self-employment and entrepreneurship to the participants. I’m willing to bet that more people would consider it a viable alternative.
Respond to me on Twitter: @AshBhoopathy or follow the discussion on HN.