No, it’s not universal loan forgiveness via the federal government. It’s apprenticeship.

Naomi Schaefer Riley blogs at Philanthropy Daily about a growing number of young adults who attend college and hold apprenticeships at the same time. And yes, they get paid.

College diplomas may not do much else, but they are a ticket to the middle class, a stamp of approval that you have showed up on time to class, can hold some responsibility and know how to act in a meeting. Unfortunately, beyond that the education you receive in college may have little relevance to your job. People may go to a community college and take courses like “Introduction to Sociology” and “Women’s Studies” and “Criminal Justice” but what they really want is a skilled job with a local manufacturer.

There is good news on this front, according to an extensive article in the Chronicle of Higher Education this week. The Chronicle reports a rise in apprenticeships in the U.S., which allow students to both enroll in postsecondary school and do skilled work at a partner company. Unlike most internship programs which prohibit paying students if they are going to get course credit, these programs pay students for time they put in at the company, while at the same time helping them work toward a degree.

This makes a lot of sense. There is no substitute for real-world experience. Apprenticeships also give college students an actual taste of their chosen field before completing their degree. Plausably, that means fewer graduates who are unhappy with their career paths.