By Pembe Candaner, Workology
April 26, 2018

The Bureau of Labor Statistics started collecting and publishing unemployment data and statistics in 1912 and has been tracking the levels of, and reasons for, unemployment ever since. With more than 100 years of history and monthly unemployment rates reported by major news outlets, the phenomena of unemployment has become something familiar, allowing many citizens to gloss over the darker sides of the statistics.

However, a new and exceedingly unfamiliar issue has reared its head in the post-recession economy: underemployment. Underemployment encompasses people who are working part-time involuntarily – or those who would be working fulltime if the work was available – as well as those who are overqualified, and underpaid, for their current professional positions. In the U.S. the underemployment rate hovered around 13 percent in the first half of 2017.

While tackling underemployment will take a multi-faceted strategy, one step to reducing underemployment is to increase access to apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship is sometimes compared to the more common internship; however, the two provide vastly different services. Apprenticeships are often longer and more in-depth than the common semester or summer-long internship, lasting up to a year or more. Apprenticeships also provide hands-on training in addition to classroom support and, most importantly for tackling underemployment, apprenticeships churn out fully-trained employees ready to join the workforce.

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