Collin Gutman of Penn Foster Discusses How to Promote the Benefits of Apprenticeships and Break Down Stigmas Around Skilled Trades

The traditional pathway to what the general public might believe to be a “good” job involves graduating high school, going to college and becoming employed upon graduation. But is this model still the best way? According to Collin Gutman, the head of skilled trades at Penn Foster, obtaining gainful employment doesn’t always involve receiving a bachelor’s degree.

“There’s 80 million Americans who are what we call middle skills, skilled trades workers,” says Collin. “And […] most of them are told by guidance counselors of society their children have to do better.”

But, Collin says, the standard of what entails a “better” job needs to be redefined. “Better can mean better within these fields. Better doesn’t mean only a four year degree,” says Collin.

Many higher ed institutions nationwide are incorporating mandatory job experience into their curriculum, including internships, co-ops or apprenticeships. Gutman says technical apprenticeships can allow people to gain new skills to enter a new field, while not putting themselves in major debt.

While the traditional educational pathway is great for a lot of people, some can’t afford, especially older learners, to go that route,” he says.

“So the earn-while-you-learn kind of apprentice or corporate upskilling model is, I think, becoming more and more fashionable as a way to […] be able to kind of upskill yourself while continuing your life. And not putting it on hold and paying your bills and the like.”

Listen in to our interview with Collin Gutman to learn more about changing perceptions of what constitutes a good job, and the evolving routes to education and employment.

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Mariel Cariker

Mariel Cariker

Mariel is a Boston-based freelance writer and audio producer who has covered news, technology and innovation for public media groups including WBUR and WGBH. Outside of work, she performs and writes spoken word poetry and voraciously reads true crime novels.