Apprenticeships are excellent opportunities for unskilled workers to learn a new skill while also earning wages. Apprenticeship programs should not be confused with internships, grants or other programs that require workers to pay tuition. A true apprenticeship in the modern day definition is one in which students are not required to pay for their training. Instead, they get paid while they gain knowledge and experience in return for the promise to work for their trainer or employer for a specific duration of time following their training.
This is slightly different from the past definition of an apprenticeship. Several decades ago, local youth would work with a local craftsman, such as a blacksmith or a cooper, as their assistant. In return, they would sometimes receive pay, but most importantly they would learn all of the skills of the trade so that one day the assistant would take over as the professional. This is sort of how apprenticeships today are based, except they have been adapted to the current global economy that we are living in today and are structured to meet the high demands of the market. So instead of training just one apprentice to take over in the future, we train a whole generation of apprentices so that the fields always have plenty of skilled workers.
In the state of Vermont you can find many apprenticeship opportunities. Many of them are found in the local unions, mostly in the construction field and other related trades. However, there are also apprenticeships available that are not related to the building, electrical and plumbing trades, such as child care, early education and much more. You can also find plenty of opportunities in Vermont that are kind of like apprenticeships but do not truly meet the modern definition of one. Just some of the true apprenticeship programs in Vermont and apprenticeship-like programs are listed below.
Vermont Gift Barn in Northern Vermont offers an apprentice position that is a lot like the older sense of the term apprentice. Apprentices get to learn all of the aspects of a wood-fired pottery business and gain access to the studio as well as all of the materials. In order to participate in the apprenticeship, a two year commitment is required. The position is for someone who has just limited experience with pottery. It gives the opportunity to work on pottery skills and also sell work in the gallery to customers.
In this position, apprentices are required to make specific Highland Pottery for the wholesale line, maintain the shop, learn all aspects of pottery, and assist with whatever chores or tasks that may be required. In addition, apprentices can are able to make their own pottery on their own time. These pieces may be purchased by the gallery, may be kept by the apprentice or may be sold by the apprentice in any venue of their choosing. The rate of pay for working in the gallery is $10 per hour and the hours given will vary. The goal of being an apprentice here is to learn how to be successful as a potter and to also improve making and designing skills.
The Vermont Folklife Center offers what they call a Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program. The goal of the program is to bring teachers and students together in an attempt to keep traditional arts (ones that are typically passed down from generation to generation) alive. Therefore, they bring master artists together with apprentices who wish to learn the art form. The program is very flexible in that it allows for a large number of different types of skills to be learned, such as cultural performance arts, basket making, blacksmithing, quilting, boat making, violin making and much more. However, this program is not really an apprenticeship in the modern-day sense. Apprentices do not get paid; however, they receive a grant that covers the cost of the master artist’s time and the cost of materials. Generally, anywhere between $500 and $2000 is awarded to master artists/apprentice pairs and this amount is dependent upon how long the apprentice will learn and what type of skill will be practiced. While apprentices do not get paid; they still get to learn a lifelong skill that they could use in the future for a rewarding career and they do not have to pay for their education in the area.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 300 offers a true apprenticeship program in the modern sense of the definition. Apprentices spend five years in on the job training and also spend 900 hours in classroom study. Apprentices earn good wages while they learn and also get fringe benefits such a health insurance and a pension plan. Entry into this program is quite competitive and an aptitude test is required to even be considered for a position. However, apprentices pay absolutely nothing for their education and experience. They do have to purchase their own textbooks, tools and clothing though. At the end of the program, apprentices can take the state issued test to obtain a journeymen electrical license and upon passing are elevated to journeyman status, gain full journeyman pay and are a licensed electrician in the state of Vermont. Applications are accepted in the South Burlington office in Vermont.