Many companies are looking at apprenticeships again as a way to train employees. On-the-job training (OJT) is taking a back-seat, as is traditional schooling. Here’s what you need to know to make the right choice:
On-The Job-Training Programs
On-the-job training, or OJT, is used to describe a situation where the employer commits to hiring an employee, and that employee then performs as any employee would. The employer agrees to train the employee, giving that employee full-time status, with benefits and company privileges.
There is a presumption of a regular, full-time job, and the employee receives all of the rights and benefits of being a full-time staff member.
The Apprentice Programs
Apprentice programs differ slightly from OJT in that these are skilled trades, including carpentry, masonry, plumbing, and electrical work. These types of jobs do require OJT, but in the apprentice program there is no presumption of a full-time job.
Work may be irregular, and the apprentice must be willing to work long hours under the tutelage of a master in the trade.
For example, a master carpenter will train an apprentice for many years, paying that apprentice well for the work, but not guaranteeing promotion to a full-time job unless the apprentice completes the apprenticeship.
The apprenticeship can last for anywhere from one to six years, and formal licensure is often required during this time. Additionally, many apprentices take trade-related classes and courses to supplement their OJT with the master.
Exams and regular testing is something that both apprenticeships and OJT sometimes have in common. A construction worker and a plumber’s apprentice might both be required to take ongoing education and testing to stay licensed and keep up on all of the latest trends in the industry.
While OJT employees may be supervised by their manager or labor union representative, apprentices are always supervised by journeymen and masters in the trade, and those masters are always responsible for the work of the apprentice.
This is not always true for OJT employees, where the employee may be responsible for his own work and results.
Online Training And On-The-Job Training
Online training and testing often supplements OJT and sometimes apprenticeships. Many companies provide the online space for the training as well as the course material. The company, or master tradesman, provides either the money for the course, or the supervision during the process — and sometimes both.
These types of courses and training are strictly supplemental and act as additional training over and above what the employee is learning on the job.
In some instances, however, the employee’s online course work will be significant. This is true when the OJT is highly technical, as is the case with IT work and Intranet security.
Networking, data protection and security, and cloud services training will likely require significant online training to prepare the employee for the job.
Some jobs require very little, if any, online training. For example, plumbing and carpentry work, may not require any online course work in addition to the master’s general and specific training and guidance.
Finally, because of the cost of the training, many employers choose to pay for the training for the employee outright, or provide generous subsidies.
Performance and Employment
One of the biggest selling features of apprenticeships is that they naturally lead into a job opportunity. The entire time the apprentice is studying, he or she is gearing up to do the job the master is teaching.
This is an ideal teacher-student relationship, and it is understood that the student will become a regular employee of the company or trade when the apprenticeship is over. It’s also a very exciting way to learn and grow into a job, both for the apprentice and for the master/employer.
On-the-job training assumes that the employee is already hired. This differs slightly from the apprenticeship in that the apprentice is not guaranteed the job until the apprenticeship is completed.
So, in essence, the apprentice has a job, conditionally (as long as he completes the apprenticeship). The on-the-job trainee already has secured the job, and the employer accepts the risk of a full-time employee from the start.
Both types of scenarios can lead to a great employer-employee relationship, but an apprenticeship tends to produce better employees because the job isn’t guaranteed right from the beginning, meaning that the poor performers are weeded out of the process naturally.
Photo Credit: DC Central Kitchen