#ApprenticeshipWorks for High School

This article also appears on the U.S. Department of Labor Blog

Photo of Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu gathered with students around a student sitting at a desk with a laptop opened.

Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu hears from students at Phelps Architecture, Construction and Engineering High School in Washington, D.C. This unique public high school offers both college preparatory and vocational education dedicated to design professions and construction trades.

By offering pathways to career-ready skills, a paycheck and debt-free college credit, registered apprenticeship is the gold standard of work-based learning.

This program brings many high school students a future they never imagined. Bobby didn’t think he had many options after graduating from high school in rural Kentucky. Apprenticeship changed his life forever. During Bobby’s junior year of high school, he entered an apprenticeship program in advanced manufacturing with an employer in his hometown. After graduating, Bobby earned 30 college credits paid by the employer and completed over 1,700 hours of on-the-job training. Now, he works full time for the same company and is set to earn more money than his parents ever dreamed of for their family.

Employers see apprenticeship as a powerful tool for finding and developing talent. Parents and students see the value in a structured, earn-and-learn postsecondary pathway. Academic leaders see apprenticeship as a clear strategy for ensuring their high school and college graduates have the skills and competencies they need for tomorrow’s jobs.

While the average U.S. apprentice is 30 years old, other countries target younger workers. In countries like Germany, Switzerland and the UK, apprenticeships bridge the education system and the world of work, introducing high school students to jobs in a variety of industries. This European model enables students to connect to employment opportunities and access postsecondary education at an earlier age.

Successful registered apprenticeship programs across the country are connecting students to careers in critical, high-paying, in-demand industries such as IT, health care, and advanced manufacturing.

  • In North Carolina, the NCWorks Youth Apprenticeship program offers high school students opportunities to earn credit for secondary Career and Technical Education coursework, college credits, and on-the-job training with a registered apprenticeship sponsor. After graduation, students complete their apprenticeship along with their associate degree, which is paid by the employer. Siemens and Ameritech are part of a consortium of employers that work with local high schools and Central Piedmont Community College on this workforce pipeline.
  • In Wisconsin, the Youth Apprenticeship program, the oldest in the country, requires students to complete two years of 450 work hours per year and four semesters of related classroom instruction. Students work in advanced manufacturing with employers such as Harley Davidson and LDI Industries.
  • In South Carolina, Apprenticeship Carolina has over 100 youth apprenticeship programs sponsored by different employers such as Agape Healthcare, IFA-Rotorion (advanced manufacturing) and Hull Hospitality Group (culinary arts). Students earn their registered apprenticeship certificate before or after high school graduation.
  • The Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK) youth pre-apprenticeship program is a business- and industry-driven program designed to create a pipeline for high school students to enter postsecondary apprenticeship training in manufacturing, welding, electrical work and carpentry. Employers are able to tailor the program for their specific needs and to select the career and technical education courses and students for their apprenticeship pathway. Students receive a nationally recognized credential at little or no cost.

As high schools and community colleges look for innovative ways to ensure students graduate with career-ready skills, registered apprenticeship is a ready-made solution. More employers can join this movement by partnering with local high schools. Interested in finding out how you can bring youth apprenticeship to your state? Check out the Office of Apprenticeship’s website for more resources and talk to your Office of Apprenticeship state director and CTE state director.

Editor’s note: Join the conversation about how #ApprenticeshipWorks during National Apprenticeship Week 2016 by using the hashtag on social media.

Eric Seleznow is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training. Kim R. Ford is the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Education for Career, Technical and Adult Education.

Posted by
Deputy Assistant Secretary, OCTAE
Posted by
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, U.S. Department of Labor

New Project Explores Connections with Apprenticeships

OCTAE announces a new project to explore options for improving connections between secondary Career and Technical Education and Apprenticeships in conjunction with first National Apprenticeship Week. OCTAE is pleased to report the launch of our new initiative to promote youth engagement in this promising workforce development strategy. Given the benefits that apprenticeship confers to both trainees and employers, states are exploring ways to attract more people, including youth, to apprenticeship programs.

The OCTAE-sponsored initiative explores options for expanding the pipeline of apprentices. The project focuses on identifying promising strategies to improve programmatic alignment between secondary career and technical education (CTE) programs and the registered apprenticeship system. The project will support state and local leaders in replicating and scaling existing pre-apprenticeship and youth apprenticeship programs, and will promote apprenticeships as a viable career path for students participating in CTE programs. The project is entitled “Potential Role of Secondary Career and Technical Education Programs in Preparing Students for Apprenticeship Programs.”

“Students participating in secondary CTE are among the most qualified for entry into apprenticeship programs, and OCTAE is pleased to do its share in helping to meet the President’s ambitious goal of doubling the number of apprentices within five years.”
— Dr. Johan Uvin, Deputy Assistant Secretary, OCTAE

Apprenticeship programs offer unique, mutually beneficial opportunities to apprentices and employers. Apprentices learn advanced, industry-vetted academic and technical skills that are offered as part of a paid, on-the-job work experience. Upon program completion, apprentices earn industry-recognized credentials that enable them to find immediate employment, with average starting wages above $50,000 annually. By being directly involved in training apprentices, employers ensure that they have access to the talent to meet their workforce needs, and be economically competitive.

OCTAE plans to release technical assistance materials and tools on our PCRN website that highlight promising practices and actionable strategies, and will likely include a resource guide, instructional videos, and webinars showcasing local program design strategies and tools.