The “Worker First” stance the the current US Administration has taken has been a great inspiration for Americans and has invigorated workers’ spirits which have been pretty low since the recession of the early 2000’s. The mandate signed by the President regarding apprenticeships is meant to bolster training necessary for jobs that are not being filled by American workers or for jobs that are being filled by higher skilled foreign labor. Putting aside the fact that the mandate itself focuses on industries that is on the decline rather than growing, the concept of apprenticeships and on the job skill building is a great thing. In fact, is is a necessity, and has been happening for far longer than many seem to realize, however, in our field we call them on-boarding and certification programs rather than apprenticeships.
We have been developing and using them for years, not because of a government mandate, but because the structure of our education system required it, forward focused technology changes so rapidly that the industry itself requires it and because the free market required it. Education teaches fundamentals (the why), but you learn the “how” on the job. You have to have both types of education in industries that grow rapidly. Cheap labor originally replaced the people who knew “how” but not “why”. Automation with Artificial Intelligence will do the same with those who know the “why”. It is important for our American workforce to realize that the days of learning a trade and performing that job for 30 years without change are over.
We must all step back and lean on American ingenuity and the American spirit in order drive our country and the world forward. A great example of these programs that inspire the ingenuity of American workers is at the heart of the Salesforce platform. Hats off to Mark Benioff for keeping the education of the people that work in our industry on the forefront of people’s minds. Trailhead, the learning platform for Salesforce products is an exceptional program through which new technology is presented in a way that can not only bring new talent into the cloud economy, but also trains and offers a pathway to keep skills up to date as the technology changes. This is one of the most important aspects of an apprenticeship that seems to be missing from the government mandated call to action. It is my hope that those who do take the lead on these types of programs, consider those who have been doing those for some time and learn from their successes and failures so that we as a global influencer can bring about change and wisdom in the most productive and efficient way.