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Federal Labor Bureau Predicts Faster Growth in Apprentice-Based Jobs

The pendulum may be swinging back from high school to on-the-job training for more careers, according to a new Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast: Occupations that require apprenticeships are expected to be among the fastest-growing entry-level jobs in the next decade.

The Bureau's latest report predicts that from 2012 to 2022, jobs including on-the-job apprenticeships will grow more than 22 percent, faster than all other types of educational career training, though still making up a smaller portion of the job market than jobs requiring some type of postsecondary degree.

Apprenticeship and internship programs are becoming more popular in a number of states, and President Barack Obama recently called for American schools to take a lesson from German systems of apprentice-based training.

The rise in apprenticeships and on-the-job training comes as the majority of new entry-level jobs show up in lower-education fields, according to the BLS. Little more than a third of the country's entry-level jobs will require a postsecondary degree. The bureau expects high growth in many low-education jobs, including nearly a 50 percent rise in personal and home health aides, each of which have starting salaries under $20,000. By 2022, more than half of all new jobs, 8.8 million, will be in careers that don't require a high school diploma.

Other recent studies have suggested that students from higher-poverty schools may be more inclined to opt for less or no college after high school, regardless of their academic ability. However, the Bureau also predicts that careers that do require college will have more than double the entry-level median wage—$57,770 versus $27,670 for jobs requiring a high school degree or less. Moreover, jobs requiring a college degree will grow faster than those that do not, 14 percent versus 9 percent.

Anthony P. Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, criticized the forecast for using only the average education level called for in each occupation and for not taking into account more nuanced changes in the education levels required for different jobs as the education of workers increases. For example, while the Bureau lists Registered Nurses as needing only an associate degree, Carnevale notes that more than half of workers in that field now already have at least a bachelor's degree.

"To tell the nation that as we move forward in this recovery only 35 percent of the jobs will require education and training after high school is not only misleading, it could be disastrous for the millions of young people who need postsecondary skills to even land an interview in an employers' market," Carnevale said in a statement on the forecast.

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