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ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: September 14, 2022
Training a skilled technical workforce
Training programs are becoming more common for aspiring science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workers, according to two cover stories in Chemical & Engineering News, an independent news outlet of the American Chemical Society. These programs are increasingly important as companies worry they won’t have enough workers to fill available jobs in these fields, particularly for technical roles that do not require a Ph.D.
In Germany, apprenticeship programs are the most common forms of training for young talent, with about half of all high school students undergoing some type of dual vocational training provided by companies, says freelance writer Vanessa Zainzinger. This training combines practical, on-the-job training with more traditional education at a school, and is beginning to find a footing elsewhere in Europe, including Austria and Switzerland. In the U.K., companies collaborate with a training provider — such as a university, vocational school or college — to run an apprenticeship program, rather than industry itself taking the lead. These programs allow apprentices to “earn while they learn,” creating career opportunities that could otherwise be unattainable for many aspiring chemists.
In the U.S., community colleges are increasingly supporting careers in fields such as biotechnology, the petroleum industry, and chemical processing and manufacturing by forging partnerships with regional companies, says freelance writer Alla Katsnelson. And the role these programs play in training workers has become more important as the cost of higher education has soared. Community college programs combine a strong chemistry and biology foundation, which includes instruction on basic and advanced techniques, with soft skills important for students’ success in the workforce. With the need for employees on a steady upswing, particularly after the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, workforce training will continue to play an important role in staffing science fields.
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