Resources for Designing Youth Apprenticeship Programs

Posted November 2, 2022
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A young woman of color wearing a navy blue polo shirt sits at a workspace — pen in hand — presumably participating in an apprenticeship.

Two recent resources from nation­al affil­i­ates of the Part­ner­ship to Advance Youth Appren­tice­ship (PAYA) shed new light on ways to design and advance youth appren­tice­ship pro­grams in the Unit­ed States. PAYA — an ini­tia­tive led by the non­par­ti­san think tank New Amer­i­ca — is sup­port­ed by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Appren­tice­ship pro­grams allow youth and young adults to com­plete high school or col­lege and earn a pay­check while acquir­ing job skills and train­ing that can lead to high-qual­i­ty employment.

These resources from two of PAYA’s nation­al part­ners pro­vide valu­able guid­ance for those invest­ed in the suc­cess of youth appren­tice­ship pro­grams,” says Alli­son Ger­ber, direc­tor of employ­ment, edu­ca­tion and train­ing at Casey. By care­ful­ly con­sid­er­ing these lessons and best prac­tices, appren­tice­ship pro­gram lead­ers and advo­cates can grow the num­ber of high-qual­i­ty appren­tice­ship oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able to young people.” 

Through pro­grams and strate­gies built with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of young peo­ple and employ­ers, PAYA part­ners hope to sup­port 10,000 youth appren­tice­ships across the nation by 2025

Pro­mot­ing Equi­table Pro­grams for Youth

A two-page brief from the Nation­al Alliance for Part­ner­ships in Equi­ty (NAPE) dis­cuss­es new approach­es for incor­po­rat­ing youth per­spec­tives in the cre­ation and imple­men­ta­tion of youth appren­tice­ship programs.

The brief notes that – by allow­ing young peo­ple to express their needs and guide deci­sion-mak­ing process­es – appren­tice­ship pro­grams can fos­ter greater account­abil­i­ty, devel­op health­i­er work envi­ron­ments and ulti­mate­ly pro­vide the best expe­ri­ences for pro­gram par­tic­i­pants. When youth and young adults in appren­tice­ship pro­grams are allowed to express them­selves — and feel heard — they become invest­ed in the suc­cess of their employ­ers and their apprenticeships.

To put these prac­tices into action, the brief sug­gests that pro­gram leaders:

  • pay appren­tices for their time;
  • allow appren­tices to shape pro­grams through par­tic­i­pa­tion in advi­so­ry coun­cils and curriculum-building;
  • let appren­tices hold meet­ings among their peers;
  • hold reg­u­lar feed­back ses­sions with appren­tices; and
  • encour­age appren­tices to present at events and conferences.

A State Pol­i­cy Play­book to Advance Youth Apprenticeship

The Nation­al Gov­er­nors Asso­ci­a­tion has released a pol­i­cy play­book that out­lines ways state lead­ers can sup­port the expan­sion of appren­tice­ship pro­grams and systems.

The play­book urges gov­er­nors and state lead­ers to devel­op poli­cies that sup­port high-qual­i­ty youth appren­tice­ship pro­grams, improve con­nec­tions between edu­ca­tion­al insti­tu­tions and work­force sys­tems and facil­i­tate greater par­tic­i­pa­tion from stu­dents, employ­ers and pro­gram partners. 

It rec­om­mends pol­i­cy­mak­ers take the fol­low­ing actions:

  • Cre­ate a uni­fied vision. By devel­op­ing a shared vision, vocab­u­lary and gov­er­nance struc­ture, states can effec­tive­ly estab­lish goals, set expec­ta­tions and align pri­or­i­ties for appren­tice­ship programs.
  • Use their plat­forms. State lead­ers are unique­ly posi­tioned to cham­pi­on and spread aware­ness of youth appren­tice­ship programs.
  • Build career readi­ness into edu­ca­tion. Lead­ers should increase aware­ness of work-based learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties avail­able to high school stu­dents, includ­ing appren­tice­ship programs.
  • Col­lect and use data. Imple­ment­ing a data col­lec­tion pol­i­cy pro­vides impor­tant infor­ma­tion for cre­at­ing pro­grams and shar­ing insights.
  • Strate­gize ways to reach employ­ers. Estab­lish­ing strong rela­tion­ships with employ­ers and cre­at­ing aware­ness of the val­ue of appren­tice­ships helps pro­grams suc­ceed and grow.
  • Reduce bar­ri­ers to par­tic­i­pa­tion. Lead­ers should rethink labor reg­u­la­tions that keep young peo­ple out of the work­place and fund ini­tia­tives that con­nect high schools, high­er learn­ing insti­tu­tions and employers.
  • Iden­ti­fy resources and put them to use. States should use avail­able local and fed­er­al fund­ing intend­ed for work­force devel­op­ment to build appren­tice­ship infra­struc­ture and encour­age pro­gram participation.

Learn how PAYA is sup­port­ing youth appren­tice­ships across the country

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