AASA Youth Apprenticeship Pathways

Youth apprenticeships are on the rise across the country. AASA visited a few districts to learn more about this exciting strategy.

AASA and the US Department of Labor are working to substantially increase awareness and adoption of the apprenticeship model at the secondary education level; and increase parental, young adult, and employer awareness around the benefits of youth participation apprenticeship programs. AASA helps districts create career pathway systems aligned to all stakeholders’ needs. Our efforts seek to ensure that apprentices move seamlessly through job assignments, through high school and post-secondary institutions, training opportunities and high quality work experiences that will help them build industry-specific skills, amass certifications, and advance to higher levels of education and employment in high demand fields.

Students can explore their passion and interests in careers via apprenticeships, often solidifying their aspirations and saving considerable debt resulting from college loans. Apprenticeships can provide tools for personal and professional growth as well as change attitudes and perceptions, elevating the value of post-secondary work. A cultural shift is needed for educators, counselors, parents and students to see successful models of apprenticeships as a viable and exciting educational option. The necessity of this transformation is reinforced through a consideration of the patterns and trends affecting United States education and its relationship to the 21st century workplace:

  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there has been a 42% growth in the number of apprenticeships since 2013 (including 533,000 apprentices currently obtaining the skills they need while earning the ways they need to build financial security).
  • Considering the growing diversity of our country (including race, ethnicity, gender, regional distribution, and socio-economic status), the U.S. Department of Labor emphasizes the need to ensure that all workers—but especially women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities—have the opportunity to become apprentices.
  • According to the Labor Department, this process taps into our nation’s full potential and opens new career pathways for American workers. This commitment is critical in the face of growing evidence that traditional high school structures are no longer addressing the needs of our diverse student population, including significant differences among graduation rates for Asian and Caucasian students compared to those for Black and Hispanic students.
  • According to the DOL Apprenticeship USA Factsheet: “Apprenticeships are a ticket to the middle class: the average starting wage is more than $60,000 and studies show that apprentices who complete their training can earn $240,000 more, over their work careers, than their peers who didn’t participate in apprenticeships.”

Youth apprenticeships are a viable strategy for all young people and can be utilized as districts with an equity lens to ensure equal access, opportunity, and participation.

You can find a literature review on youth apprenticeships here.

Interactive toolkit coming soon!


Savannah Summit
Denver Summit
Photos from the
Savannah, Ga. Summit