New Resources to Expand Quality Apprenticeship Programs

Posted September 5, 2019
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Quality apprenticeships help young people connect with economic opportunity

For many peo­ple — espe­cial­ly res­i­dents in low-income com­mu­ni­ties and peo­ple of col­or — four-year edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions are too cost­ly or too dif­fi­cult to man­age with work and home life.

Appren­tice­ship pro­grams have emerged as a promis­ing alternative.

When exe­cut­ed well, appren­tice­ships allow peo­ple to earn cre­den­tials and a pay­check while train­ing along­side skilled men­tors — an arrange­ment that cre­ates equi­table path­ways in grow­ing fields of work, such as health care, hos­pi­tal­i­ty and technology.

Below are resources, fund­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foun­da­tion, that offer insights and advice on expand­ing appren­tice­ship pro­grams so that more Amer­i­cans can gain the expe­ri­ences and con­nec­tions need­ed to thrive in today’s chang­ing economy.

Cen­ter on Wis­con­sin Strat­e­gy (COWS): Build­ing equi­table apprenticeships

A pol­i­cy brief by the research group COWS draws on case stud­ies from Cal­i­for­nia, Mon­tana and Wis­con­sin to offer rec­om­men­da­tions for build­ing equi­table appren­tice­ship pro­grams that expand career oppor­tu­ni­ties for women and peo­ple of col­or. Tips include:

  • Pri­or­i­tize equi­ty. Account for entry bar­ri­ers that peo­ple of col­or and women face and make spe­cial efforts to recruit them.
  • View race, eth­nic­i­ty, gen­der and lived expe­ri­ence as strengths. Rec­og­nize that a diverse staff can bet­ter con­nect with the cul­ture and expe­ri­ences of the peo­ple they serve.
  • Con­cen­trate on appren­tice­ships that lead to a career. Ensure par­tic­i­pants are con­nect­ed to well-pay­ing employ­ers that offer long-term, sus­tain­able careers.

JFF: Fos­ter­ing more inclu­sive hir­ing practices

In its report Grow­ing Equi­ty and Diver­si­ty Through Appren­tice­ship, the non­prof­it JFF ana­lyzes the efforts of more than 15 work­er asso­ci­a­tions and employ­ers to gen­er­ate insights on appren­tice­ship pro­grams look­ing to boost diverse hir­ing. Advice includes:

  • Look beyond degrees. Employ­ers can cre­ate oppor­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple who have tra­di­tion­al­ly been exclud­ed from well-pay­ing jobs by con­sid­er­ing can­di­dates’ spe­cif­ic skills and pas­sion — not just their edu­ca­tion­al background.
  • Con­nect with stu­dents ear­ly. Young peo­ple should learn about career path­ways out­side of the tra­di­tion­al four-year col­lege mod­el as soon as possible.

North Car­oli­na Jus­tice Cen­ter: Expand­ing access to youth apprenticeships

A study by the North Car­oli­na Jus­tice Cen­ter, Mak­ing Youth Appren­tice­ships Equi­table and Effec­tive, explores youth appren­tice­ship pro­grams in four North Car­oli­na coun­ties and ana­lyzes the bar­ri­ers that young peo­ple — par­tic­u­lar­ly youth of col­or — face. Rec­om­men­da­tions include:

  • Active­ly recruit young peo­ple of col­or. Employ­ers and oth­er recruiters should pri­or­i­tize vis­its to schools that pri­mar­i­ly serve stu­dents of color.
  • Rely on trust­ed mes­sen­gers. Mem­bers from with­in a giv­en com­mu­ni­ty — pas­tors, com­mu­ni­ty advo­cates, employ­ees of col­or — may be more effec­tive at con­nect­ing with stu­dents of col­or and pro­mot­ing appren­tice­ships as viable opportunities.
  • Col­lect and stan­dard­ize data. To mea­sure results well, pro­gram staff must col­lect data in the same way, using the same meth­ods, across var­i­ous sites.

Part­ner­ship to Advance Youth Appren­tice­ship (PAYA): Build­ing qual­i­ty programs

PAYA is a mul­ti­year, mul­ti­state ini­tia­tive to help high school stu­dents access high-qual­i­ty appren­tice­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties. The col­lab­o­ra­tive has devel­oped a set of guid­ing prin­ci­ples to help ensure that these pro­grams con­nect young peo­ple with the skills need­ed to meet work­place demands and devel­op suc­cess­ful careers. PAYA defines effec­tive youth appren­tice­ship pro­grams as:

  • Career ori­ent­ed, with learn­ing struc­tured around knowl­edge, skills and com­pe­ten­cies that leads to careers pro­vid­ing fam­i­ly-sup­port­ing wages.
  • Equi­table, with tar­get­ed sup­port ser­vices for stu­dents who face the great­est edu­ca­tion and employ­ment barriers.
  • Portable and offer trans­ferrable col­lege credits.
  • Adapt­able and designed for a vari­ety of indus­tries and sectors.
  • Account­able, with clear­ly defined targets.

Learn more about PAYA’s state-based efforts and view its info­graph­ic on the ben­e­fits of youth appren­tice­ships.

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