Higher Education vs. Apprenticeships

Diego Trevino“There are many ways to brew coffee.” When preparing for your dream job, you will find a variety of ways to gain the skills necessary, just like there are a variety of ways to brew your morning cup. The services Workforce Solutions offers can provide several of these ways in the form of training for and obtaining these skills. We have partners all over the 13-county Gulf Coast region who strive to make sure their customers (or students) reach their educational goals.

Many students nowadays often ask:

  • Do I need a four-year degree?
  • Do internships pay at all?
  • How do I get the job I want without the skills and experience needed?

Education vs. experience has been the biggest rivalry in employment since before my Workforce Solutions career. I hope this blog can answer some these questions and shed light on how to confront this rivalry.

Education
Higher education is offered at a local community college or university and provides a general understanding of multiple skills that can be transferred from employer to employer or industry to industry. But many students find it difficult to understand why they need to take a philosophy class when they are getting an associate’s degree in an unrelated field. The reason to take these difficult classes, that may seem irrelevant, is to expand your base of soft skills. These classes build critical thinking and problem solving while also helping you with the ability to network with different types of people who have different goals and ambitions.

Experience
On the job training or apprenticeships are some of the oldest forms of learning the right skills for a specific job outside of a four-year degree. Think of a blacksmith taking an apprentice under his wing to learn how to mold liquid metal into a dragon-slaying sword. As a young apprentice, you learn the basics, but your goal is to one day take over the blacksmith’s shop and make an even better blade.

Today several high skill and high growth occupations in industries, such as construction or energy, offer this type of training with the aspirations of teaching individuals to become masters of their craft. Which skills to build and where to learn them can be found at the Workforce Solutions website. Apprenticeships are often linked to internships, which may be unpaid work; however, this is not always the case and Workforce Solutions can help you find paid internships as well.

Both of the above forms of education and training have their advantages and disadvantages. Generally speaking, higher education builds soft skills while apprenticeships and “on-the-Job training” focus on hard skills. It is up to you to determine which option is a better fit. In my own experience, I went the four year route and, at times, felt that developing at least one hard skill would have been a better path. I also know many individuals who developed a hard skill “on the job” and wished they went my route. Either path you decide to take, you are learning and adding value to your resume. If you are on the fence, come by a Workforce Solutions office for a second opinion on your options.

Diego Trevino is a Regional Facilitator for Workforce Solutions in the Houston – Galveston area. Before joining the regional team, he served as a greeter, employment counselor and staffing specialist. Earlier in his career he traveled to South Korea where he taught students English. He uses past teaching experiences and present workforce knowledge to conduct job skills seminars throughout the 13 county Gulf Coast Region.

1 Response to “Higher Education vs. Apprenticeships”


  1. 1 visual therapy August 30, 2017 at 12:15 pm

    It’s hard to come by educated people about this topic, but you seem like you know
    what you’re talking about! Thanks


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