Offers a functional definition and key characteristics of youth apprenticeship in the United States; and presents key findings, supported by policy initiatives in 10 states, to guide policymakers in connecting education and workforce systems to grow high-quality youth apprenticeship programs.

“This report explores opportunities and challenges for growing high-quality youth apprenticeship in the U.S…. [The authors] led a multipronged research effort that included a review of domestic and international research on youth apprenticeship; focus groups with high school parents, students, and recent graduates; a national landscape scan of current youth apprenticeship activity; and interviews with practitioners and national subject-matter experts” (p.5) to answer the following research questions:

  • “What makes youth apprenticeship an attractive option for improving outcomes for students?
  • Are Americans open to connecting more high school students to apprenticeship?
  • What do we know about the current landscape of youth apprenticeship programs?
  • What can we learn from past efforts to expand youth apprenticeship?
  • What efforts are underway today to expand youth apprenticeship?” (p.5).

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is paid, structured, on-the-job learning with related classroom-based instruction. There is only one existing legal definition for apprenticeship through the Registered Apprenticeship system administered by the U.S. Department of Labor….Registered apprenticeship includes four essential criteria:

1. Paid, on-the-job learning under the supervision of skilled employees
2. Related classroom-based instruction
3. Ongoing assessment against skills standards
4. Culmination in a portable, industry-recognized credential

The Registered Apprenticeship system establishes additional baseline standards for each of the ‘four corners,’ including program duration, increases in wages as apprentices earn new skills, and assurances that all apprentices receive, upon completion, a nationally-recognized ‘journeyworker’ credential backed by the U.S. Department of Labor” (p.3).

“What is a youth apprenticeship?

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 a Registered apprenticeship program, but is designed specifically for apprentices that at the start of the program are enrolled as high school students” (p.3).

“[T]here are still just only a half million apprentices in the U.S. today….It also remains a workforce strategy largely for adults. The average age of an apprentice is closer to 30 than 18, in large part because apprenticeship functions apart from mainstream education systems” (p.2-4).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The authors “produced the following key findings: 1. Youth apprenticeship is aligned with mainstream thinking about key problems facing American education and industry, including how to smooth transitions between education and the workforce. 2. Americans are open to youth apprenticeship for high school students, but awareness is low and caveats remain related to program quality. 3. Without a single definition for youth apprenticeship, the current national landscape shows a diverse collection of programs nowhere near a coherent system. 4. There are historical reasons for today’s fragmented and limited landscape. Past efforts to expand youth apprenticeship offer important lessons for future ones. 5. States are leading a new wave of efforts to expand youth apprenticeship” (p.5). “State and local leaders…are well positioned to grow youth apprenticeship by taking steps that help local youth apprenticeship partnerships come together in a more consistent and efficient way. Key steps include: •A clear framework to guide program design and quality” (p.21). •“Industry-wide approaches to program development” (p.22). •“Sustainable financing for postsecondary instruction” (p.22). •“Sustainable financing model for intermediaries” (p.22). “Policymakers, philanthropy, and coalitions of state, education, and industry leaders can all help address this dilemma by contributing to broader field building efforts along three key fronts: •Supporting a vision for quality and learning” (p.22). •“Improving understanding of the enabling environment” (p.22). •“Building capacity and supporting innovation” (p.22). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)