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How High School Students Can Benefit from Apprenticeships

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Joy Biscornet College Coach

Written by Joy Biscornéton December 22nd, 2023

I got my first taste of admissions through my undergraduate work-study at Lafayette College where, in addition to filing a lot of paper, I interacted with students and families as a tour guide and admissions panelist. However, it was only when I was away from a college environment working as a Civil Engineer that I realized how much I missed working with students at this important time in their lives. I spent the first part of my admissions career working at small liberal arts colleges on the East Coast, before joining the undergraduate admission staff at Boston College where I reviewed applications to all four undergraduate programs. After more than a decade working in admissions, I wanted to have more insight into the student experience in the college process. My curiosity took me to Northern California where I worked as a college counselor at Castilleja School, a highly selective private girls high school, helping students apply to the most competitive colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. After my time at Castilleja School, I moved to the Midwest to manage the undergraduate international admission process at a large public university, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I reviewed applications for admission to the College of Engineering. Through these experiences I’ve had the privilege of traveling across the nation and around the world (20+ countries), meeting and working with students and families to share my knowledge and expertise of the nuances of the college process.
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by Joy Biscornet, former admissions officer at Boston College In recent years, apprenticeships have been getting a lot of attention. The state of California is investing millions of dollars in the development of 500,000 apprenticeships by 2030, while corporations like Accenture, McDonald’s, and Google have created apprenticeships to develop talent pools of qualified job applicants, and high schools around the country are partnering with local companies to provide apprenticeships for youth workforce development. In this blog post, we’re going to focus on what apprenticeships are, how they have evolved over time, and how high school students can benefit from youth apprenticeship opportunities. What is an Apprenticeship? Historically, apprenticeships provided opportunities for individuals to learn a trade from a skilled craftsman through on-the-job training. Over a period of agreed upon time, an apprentice achieves measurable competencies. You might be surprised to know that, in their youth, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Paul Revere were all apprentices before making their marks in US history. Apprenticeships to train surveyors, silversmiths, and shipwrights, as well as hundreds of other trades, were and are responsible for the continued economic growth of the United States and many other countries. In the past, apprentices received food and lodging in exchange for work while they learned a trade. Now, individuals participate in sponsored, structured earn-and-learn programs known as registered apprenticeships. Per ApprenticeshipUSA, a registered apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers can develop and prepare their future workforce, and individuals can obtain paid work experience, receive progressive wage increases, classroom instruction, and a portable, nationally-recognized credential. Registered Apprenticeships are industry-vetted and approved and validated by the U.S. Department of Labor or a State Apprenticeship Agency. How Have Apprenticeships Evolved? When you think of modern apprenticeships, the building trades may automatically come to mind. Apprenticeships in plumbing, carpentry, and HVAC are popular and a great way to gain expertise and earn a living, but apprenticeships have grown to include other industries in need of trained professionals, especially as many Americans age out of the workforce. Allied health care, tech, and advanced manufacturing are the three industries most in need of qualified workers. Apprenticeships in nursing, pharmacy, web development, cyber security, CNC machine operation, and robotics technology are examples of opportunities in these industries. Keep in mind, apprenticeships are not only hands-on training. There is an education component to each program, as apprentices receive instruction on the technical and academic competencies that apply to the job. Education partners collaborate with businesses sponsoring apprenticeships to develop curriculum, which often incorporates established national-level skill standards. The related instruction may be provided by community colleges, technical schools, or apprenticeship training schools, or by the business itself and delivered at a school, online, or at the job site. Apprenticeship sponsors often work directly with two- and four-year colleges to structure the program so apprentices earn college credits. The length of an apprenticeship ranges from one to six years depending on the complexity of the occupation and the type of program model the sponsor chooses. For example, a mechatronics and robotics apprenticeship may be a 15-month program, which includes 12 weeks of training at a local college and 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning, while completing 40 industry benchmarks and passing four nationally recognized certifications. Are There Apprenticeships for High School Students? Youth apprenticeships are on the rise as well. These programs provide technical classroom instruction with paid work experience for ages 16-24. Youth apprenticeships typically begin in the junior or senior year of high school, with students taking high school classes alongside college courses, in addition to receiving paid on-the-job learning. Year three of the youth apprenticeship includes college coursework and a continuation of paid, on-the-job learning. At the conclusion of the program, an individual will have earned a high school diploma, transferable college credit, an industry-recognized credential, mentorship, and paid work experience. They will also have developed a professional network. Youth apprenticeships can lead to full-time employment, full-time education, or both. For example, ECEPTS (Early Care & Education Pathways to Success) offers youth apprenticeship in early childhood education. With “an introduction to public sector and family-focused jobs, apprentices complete four dual-credit college courses and paid on-the-job training in early education, special education, and social/human services. After graduation, the apprenticeship continues as students enter community college, culminating with an AA degree and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training. To learn more about youth apprenticeships and to find programs in your area, visit ApprenticeshipUSA.

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