Why Apprenticeships Should Go Soft

For the 2020 Washington Monthly College Guide, I profiled what I think should be the gold standard for apprenticeship programs – a program called FAME, which began out of a Toyota plant in Kentucky.

Apprentices lucky enough to land a spot in FAME are likely to get a great job after they graduate; they will have earned an associates’ degree; and they will have been paid enough for their work to pay for tuition and living expenses. The curriculum is also cutting-edge. FAME teaches much more than the technical skills someone needs to be a competent worker in advanced manufacturing. Two-thirds of the curriculum is focused on so-called “soft skills” – such as critical thinking, team work and communications skills – that are becoming increasingly important.

I interviewed the founder of the program, Dennis Dio Parker, who is one of the most charismatic and visionary workforce development leaders I have ever met. Parker was a graduate of the Navy’s nuclear engineering program, which he described as the academic version of the Navy’s SEALs – few students are recruited and few make it through. The high standards inculcated by the program clearly carry through Parker’s vision for FAME.

Read it here.