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Much has been written about the skills gap in America. The lack of qualified workers is having a major impact on the nation’s economy.

Recently, Gateway Technical College received a grant from the American Association of Community Colleges to expand apprenticeship training. Our commitment through this investment is to add at least 150 new apprentices to the local workforce over the next three years.

Apprenticeship is one of the strategies that Gateway uses to partner with employers to develop the knowledge and skills for high-demand occupations. A strength of apprenticeship is the mentoring that is required by the employer. An experienced employee — often a journey person — serves as an on-the-job mentor to support the apprentice throughout their training.

In the book “Teach to Work: How a Mentor, a Mentee, and a Project Can Close the Skills Gap in America,” Patty Alper states that “mentoring transforms lives. Students often lack the soft skills usually gleaned from role models.” Claire Cain Miller wrote about this in her October 2015 New York Times article The Best Jobs Require Social Skills “… to better prepare students for the workforce.”

Social or employability skills are best learned by practice and mentoring can provide a valuable strategy to engage learners and young employees on how to adapt to the culture of your organization. So whether through formal work-based learning mentoring or social integration, everyone can benefit from having mentoring as a tool to attract and keep workers.

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Bryan Albrecht is the president and CEO of Gateway Technical College.

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