Apprenticeships are structured training programs that give youth a chance to work towards a career-related qualification and are a great pathway to a higher-paid, skilled job. Apprenticeships help students gain the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a chosen industry. Youth apprenticeships prepare high school students with a combination of classroom instruction and paid on-the-job training. These apprenticeships are usually a partnership between state or local government, the local school system, and employers in the local community.
Apprenticeships offer significant advantages for youth:
- Immersion — Entry-level workers have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the work environment for which they are preparing.
- Academic Credit — Some apprenticeships may have direct agreements with post-secondary institutions, such as community colleges, for academic credit.
- Cash — An apprenticeship is also paid employment. Therefore, students who need to earn a wage while learning can greatly benefit from this approach.
What Are Some of the Challenges of Youth Apprenticeships?
There are a few challenges associated with apprenticeship programs. They can be difficult to set up and may involve bureaucratic work; building a program might take years and will require strong partnerships. Industries do not always see the benefits of a youth specific apprenticeship, choosing instead to focus on adults with established work histories. Some industries, such as construction, have very volatile ebbs and flows that can make steady employment more difficult. Finally, most apprenticeships are not geared towards workers with limited English proficiency. Advocating for refugee clients who may wish to access apprenticeships and utilizing youth programs like Job Corps, which includes on-site training and education may help to combat these challenges.
With today’s vibrant and competitive workforce, greater levels of preparation are required for young people to successfully access opportunities that pay living wages and withstand the pressures inherent in our economy. Apprenticeships may offer one solution to this challenge.
For more information on youth apprenticeships or apprenticeships in general follow:
Youth with Disabilities Entering the Workplace through Apprenticeship, Career Begins with Assessment, and the U.S. Department of Labor website for apprenticeship.