Employers can help shape tomorrow’s future workforce with youth apprenticeships

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By Erin Eagan


youth apprenticeships
For over 25 years, youth apprenticeship programs have been connecting Wisconsin’s employers to the future workforce. Youth apprenticeships give employers the opportunity to mentor eager high school juniors and seniors as they explore future careers. They create an ideal environment for employers to teach students the specialized skills that cannot be learned in a classroom setting and educate them on their business and industry.

As part of a one- or two-year apprenticeship, students attend high school classes for part of the day and work with the employers for a few hours, depending on the needs of the employer and the flexibility of the student’s schedule. The classes the students typically take are industry-related, enhancing what they are learning from the employer.

During the 2017-18 school year, youth apprenticeship in Wisconsin hit an all-time high with over 2,900 employers participating in the program. For proof of its success, at the completion of the apprenticeship, on average, employers extend permanent job offers to more than 75% of the graduating youth, making it a valuable pipeline for recruiting and retaining talent.

Both students and employers benefit
The connections made between students and employers in invaluable. Employers who have participated in the youth apprenticeship program have noted many benefits, including:

  • The chance to mentor youth who are eager to learn about the industry
  • Direct control over building a pipeline to future workers
  • Positive public perception for your company in the community and beyond
  • Ability to influence curriculum development as the industry evolves

“I have been involved with (youth apprenticeship) for many years and believe it is a vital tool for youth to explore the opportunities in our industry and gain valuable knowledge for their futures,” says Charlie Cupp, Zimbrick Honda in Madison, touting the many benefits of the youth apprenticeship program. “With today’s needs for employees in the trades, the apprenticeship program has helped us grow many long-term career employees. We will continue our commitment to this program as we feel strongly about the opportunities it provides and the benefits for the employees and the company.”

Your company may be eligible for funding
The youth apprenticeship program is overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD). There are several program areas that have been approved by DWD with more being added. Your company may be eligible for funding for the program. To apply, visit DWD’s Youth Apprentice Program Application Guide.