Like many small business owners, Kim Thibeau, a Connecticut salon owner, has struggled to find young workers. A local school counselor helped connect her with high school seniors interested in cosmetology. Cosmetology students usually pay $25,000 to complete the mandated 1,500 hours of education and training requirements in the state. With the closest approved school more than an hour away from their town, Thibeau tried to train the young workers in her salon instead—providing them with an affordable, effective, and convenient way to receive the training they needed.
There was just one problem: Giving the students free training was illegal under Connecticut law.
The state allows apprenticeship programs for many other vocations, so Thibeau worked with State Sen. Paul Formica, a Republican, to pass Senate Bill 548, which expands these training opportunities to aspiring cosmetologists. Now young workers who cannot meet the state’s stringent licensing requirements have another way to gain the skills needed to find work.
As Thibeau said, “The cosmetology schools can be great for some people if it’s convenient and affordable. But an alternative path would be to do an apprenticeship in their community.”
As we conclude National Apprenticeship Week, a week that was marked by events across the country held by leaders in business, labor, education, and government, we have to ask ourselves: Why aren’t more industries using apprenticeships to train workers? Even with rare bipartisan support from politicians for this proven model, less than 5 percent of young people enter apprenticeships.
A new report authored by my colleagues from the Foundation for Government Accountability and myself points to one reason for the lack of apprenticeships: Restrictive occupational licensing laws stand in the way.
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