Alex Tabbarok of Marginal Revolution thinks apprenticeships deserve more respect, as he links to and quotes from a Financial Times article about German apprenticeships. I agree.
According to the article, more than 40% of Germans become apprentices compared with 0.3% of Americans.
I think many Americans go through informal apprenticeships. It’s better known as on-the-job training. It’s just that we usually start these much later life than we need to. We should and could start at around 16 or 17 years old, but we generally delay it into the 20s occupying the ensuing 5 or 6 years with a heavy dose of marginally productive liberal arts programming sold on the notion it produces well-rounded individuals.
However, I’ve met plenty of well-rounded individuals who skipped the formal programming. They became well-rounded by pursuing their interests and fulfilling their curiosities, rather than checking off a list produced by unproductive do-gooders.