Dear President Obama,
I want to be an Apprentice. I heard you say in your State of the Union address that you want “more on-the-job training and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life.” Well, I’m not young, but I am interested in jumping on that upward trajectory. You see, I am a teacher, and it’s hard to support my family on the salary I earn teaching in rural Tennessee. I want to earn a graduate degree in Educational Policy so that I can share my years of teaching experience to help shape the future of education in my community, and for my country.
But like many of the students I teach, the world of academia isn’t the place where I learn best. I gain the most when I am able to apply my knowledge in real-world settings. I am temporarily living in England, where workers in Higher Apprenticeship frameworks earn university-level qualifications through on-the-job training in companies such as Barclay’s and Rolls Royce. While I’m not aware of graduate degrees in Education earned through apprenticeships, I have seen workers gaining degrees in fields from Engineering to Human Resources to Business. Perhaps I could help the U.S. lead the way in promoting apprenticeship pathways to fulfilling, high-paying careers that will keep our nation strong through the 21st century.
Also like many of the students I teach, I can neither afford to quit working in order to attend school nor pay the high cost of a university degree. If we are to increase social mobility and reduce the inequity that continues to limit our nation, we must provide work-based pathways to higher education. Most apprenticeship frameworks here in England involve 80% work-based training with mentors in the industry sector and 20% classroom-based learning from a further or higher education training provider. Apprentices are paid by their employer. Even governmental bodies and schools employ apprentices. I could offer my years of teaching experience to work alongside current educational policy leaders, and attend part-time or blended learning classes to complete the coursework required to gain a university degree. My employer would benefit from my years of teaching experience, I would advance my career without having to leave my profession, and our nation would develop a framework to share the benefits of higher education across all our communities.
Please consider my offer to help our country develop innovative pathways for career development. For more information about England’s Higher Apprenticeship program, you can view the National Apprenticeship Service’s youtube video about the subject at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DG3PqhU5prM.
Rebecca Leech, Teacher