US LOOKS AT APPRENTICE PROGRAMS

Interest in a national apprenticeship system in the United States is increasing.

"Too many of our young people are not moving from school to good jobs with a good future," President-elect Clinton has said. "Apprenticeship is an idea which has worked in other countries. We ought to try it here."

Legislation supporting national youth apprenticeship has been introduced in Congress. And a dozen states have experimental programs.

About 3,500 US high school students currently participate in youth apprenticeship programs, according to "Youth Apprenticeship in America," a report just released by the William T. Grant Foundation Commission on Work, Family, and Citizenship.

Clinton's home state of Arkansas modeled its Youth Apprenticeship Initiative on the German system. A 0.5 percent increase in corporate income taxes helps fund the program.

Oregon is offering tax credits to businesses that participate in a pilot apprenticeship program for high school and college students.

A successful national apprenticeship system in the US would require increased cooperation among government, business, and education.

"It is very difficult to invent such a system," advises Friedrick Plickert, an official at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Berlin.

Supporters of an American apprenticeship system agree that the US must formulate its own approach.

"While the German model suggests promising directions for reform, simply transplanting that model to the US is not feasible," states the Grant Foundation report.

The report goes on to warn that "while everyone likes the positive outcomes of German apprenticeships, we do not yet know what adjustments, commitments, or sacrifices are required in order to accomplish these outcomes in the US."

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