Blog right triangle Is Modern Youth Apprenticeship Really for “Every Student”?

Is Modern Youth Apprenticeship Really for “Every Student”?


When we tell people that a modern youth apprenticeship is for “any kind of kid,” we’re often met with skepticism … or worse, outright disbelief. But the fact is, the benefits of work-based learning are so varied that every kind of student can find tremendous value in it.

In days gone by, when apprenticeships were exclusively the dominion of trade-oriented professions, well-meaning educators inadvertently tracked kids that they didn’t see as “college material” towards apprenticeship and other career-oriented tracks. But for a number of reasons that’s an antiquated notion. CareerWise pathways—Information Technology, Healthcare, Advanced Manufacturing, Financial Services and Business Operations—provide more than a straight line to career; they create a clear vision for how higher education can help further that career.

Whether a student is already on a collision course with college, wants to be but might not have the means, or simply isn’t certain what their future holds, apprenticeship can provide the experience and maturity to make the college experience meaningful, make higher education more affordable and obtainable, and ultimately provide her with the insight into what it will take to reach her career goals.

Not to mention the advantages apprentices will have over their peers (read: their job competition!) when they graduate. Not only will they have the credentials necessary to qualify for the job they want, they’ll have the meaningful work experience and a professional network to get them where they want to be—regardless of their path.

That said, it should be noted that because the hiring process to obtain an apprenticeship is a competitive one, not every student who seeks apprenticeship will get one. CareerWise business partners receive many more applications than they have available positions, so only those students that stand out as eager, capable and passionate earn the distinction of becoming an apprentice (a student’s academic performance often plays a role in the hiring process, but there are other factors with which employers are more concerned). There is no forced placement, the kids who become apprentices have earned it—it’s prestigious, it’s honorable and it’s where companies are going to find their future high-performing employees.

Our initial goal is to have 20,000 Colorado students working in a modern youth apprenticeship within 10 years. The reason we can be so ambitious with those numbers is because we’re designing a model that appeals to more than one segment of the population. There is tangible, meaningful benefit in apprenticeship for everyone from the college-bound honor student to the student struggling to find meaning and relevance in their classroom education. In the workplace, we can all contribute through hands-on participation, in fact, many companies deliberately seek a variety of personalities, work/learning styles and life experience to drive innovation and competitiveness. Through apprenticeship, we all have a dignified path to success.