As the coronavirus pandemic forced the United States and the rest of the world's educational systems to switch much of its learning online, construction industry apprentices were able to adapt much quicker because a major component of their learning was unchanged.
Registered apprentice programs utilize a two-pronged approach to educating the next generation of construction workers. Most classroom instruction provided to apprentices did convert exclusively to online learning, the other major component to the programs was as close to normal as anything could be during COVID-19.
On-the-Job Learning Continues
While Training Directors focused on adjusting class time to the internet, a great deal of apprenticeship learning continued to take place on-the-job under the direction of experienced journeymen.
The construction industry has been considered essential in most states, meaning apprentice and journeyman construction workers continued to work and earn a paycheck. Apprentices benefited from this because they were still able to learn from their journeyman mentors.
What College Students Are Saying
College and university students throughout the country have expressed dissatisfaction with online learning, especially when many are paying the same price they would for in-person classes, only adding to their student loan debt.
Although some attend for the experience of living away from home and the newfound freedom that provides, many students expressed fears about online learning, citing lack of quality lessons, missing out on person-to-person interactions, and much more.
In a survey conducted by the Bowdoin Orient, the students of Bowdoin College expressed great concern about the quality of online learning and the school’s plan for the 2021 academic year.
In the survey, all four grade levels at the college stated “dissatisfaction” or “extreme dissatisfaction” with the plan to hold classes online this fall.
Apprenticeship programs are dynamic, unlike college settings where the large bulk of learning is done in lecture halls. While the lectures may proceed online, many college students across the U.S. have voiced concern about missing out on other learning opportunities, like lab work or more direct contact with professors.
Apprentices are still learning in their normal environment, on-the-job. Although there are some social distancing standards and mask mandates, apprentices gain this needed education and experience promised when they started.
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