Defining What a Youth Apprenticeship Is

Type: Article
Topics: College- Career- and Life-Readiness, School Administrator Magazine

August 01, 2018

Youth apprenticeship is an evolving concept in the U.S. with no single, legal definition.

Generally, a youth apprenticeship program meets the same four criteria of the registered apprenticeship program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor. The four essential criteria are:

» paid, on-the-job learning under the supervision of skilled employees;

» related classroom-based instruction;

» ongoing assessment against skills standards; and

» culmination in a portable, industry-recognized credential.

A youth apprenticeship is designed for someone attending high school. As such, these programs typically function as a partnership among employers, high schools and postsecondary institutions.

Youth apprenticeship programs generally work like this: An employer hires an apprentice in the junior or senior year of high school. The apprentice spends a few days a week working under the supervision of skilled mentors. When not working, the apprentice attends classes, sometimes in high school, sometimes in community college. The courses are related to what the apprentice is learning on the job, but also build the apprentice’s general knowledge.

Youth apprentices graduate high school on time, but continue with the apprenticeship for an additional one to three years after graduation. By the end, youth apprentices accumulate years of work experience, free college credit (in some cases an associate’s degree) and a portable industry credential.

After the program, the apprentice has options. With networks, marketable skills and work experience, the apprentice is on line for a full-time job. Apprentices also can continue their postsecondary education, often applying the college credits earned in their apprenticeship toward a degree. Or they can pursue some combination of the two.