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November 12-18th is National Apprenticeship Week so it’s only natural that we turn our focus this month to the strong work currently being undertaken by YouthBuild grantees in this area.  Developing and supporting apprenticeship pathways has been a key part of our technical assistance focus in the past year and, as we further the implementation of the Construction Plus model, it will continue to be a focus and area for expansion.  This reflects the focus on apprenticeship pathways for the agency, and the country, as a whole.  This newsletter highlights the strategies undertaken by two local YouthBuild communities to bridge the partnership to apprenticeships.   ~ Jenn Smith, National YouthBuild Director, U.S. Department of Labor

Leveraging Relationships with Offices of Apprenticeship to Promote Partnerships and Pathways

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is designed, in part, to connect out-of-school youth to education and jobs.  Under WIOA, YouthBuild programs are considered pre-apprenticeship models, with a goal of connecting youth participants to jobs by preparing them for, and connecting them to, future apprenticeships.  Apprenticeships provide a clearly defined and regulated method to access on-the-job training for youth participants, providing them with skills desired by employers while also providing an opportunity to earn a living wage – this is known as a “work-and-learn model” approach to workforce development.  To achieve this link to apprenticeships, YouthBuild grantees must develop and nurture partnerships with apprenticeship sponsors, an objective that many programs find difficult to achieve. While a number of YouthBuild grantees have partnerships with employers, business associations, and labor management organizations, many do not, and those partnerships that do exist are often not robust enough to result in apprenticeship placement.  In many cases, the challenge in developing these partnerships is due to the effort needed to nurture them and the limited capacity of staff to manage multiple relationships across multiple employers and associations.  Each such partnership can take months, if not years, to develop.

To maximize the apprenticeship opportunities which YouthBuild participants can access, grantees should consider how to accelerate partnership development with potential apprenticeship sponsors.  This can include a range of work-and-learn models. There is growing recognition of an expanding range of options for viable partnerships leading to career pathways.  The President’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion was convened in 2017 to consider policy changes to support these more expansive career pathways, particularly in the area of apprenticeship.  The 2018
President’s Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion Final Report noted that while apprenticeships are a proven model to prepare workers for employment and are mutually beneficial for employers who gain employees that are prepared for work and for workers who have a pathway to a career, they are often underutilized by employers.  The Task Force recommended new “Industry-Recognized Apprenticeship Programs” as a pathway to expand traditional work-and-learn models for greater employer engagement, thus leading to improved outcomes.  Work-and-learn models may include activities as diverse as industry tours and job shadowing, as well as internships and apprenticeship.  This expansion of work-and-learn models opens new opportunities for YouthBuild programs to connect directly with industry partners to develop new opportunities to for hands-on work experience, potential future job placements, and even apprenticeship pathways.  However, YouthBuild grantees must identify ways to accelerate the partnership development process and engage more deeply with employers, industry associations, and apprenticeship sponsors alike. 

Acceleration Strategy #1: Use Offices of Apprenticeship to Identify Sponsors Looking for Talent 

The role of the Federal and State Offices of Apprenticeship (OAs) are to assist employers in designing work-based learning opportunities to develop a talent pool of workers, provide information to potential employees about apprenticeship and other work-based learning opportunities, identify apprenticeship sponsors, and support the apprenticeship registration process.  In this capacity, OAs can connect local YouthBuild grant programs to apprenticeship sponsors seeking qualified candidates.  Because staff members who work at OAs engage regularly with employers, business associations, labor management organizations, and community colleges, they can present YouthBuild as a potential talent pool for these partners.  “This creates a win-win-win situation since it provides staff at Offices of Apprenticeship with a ready-made talent source in YouthBuild and the apprenticeship sponsors are able to create a talent pipeline.  YouthBuild participants win because they are placed on a pathway that includes the opportunity to develop relevant skills while earning a good wage,” says William Kraus, Director of the Georgia State Office of Apprenticeship.

here to find the Office of Apprenticeship in your state.

Acceleration Strategy #2: Collaborate with Other YouthBuild Grantees

Finding sufficient numbers of participants who are both interested in specific career pathways and have the right aptitude and soft skills to pursue apprenticeship can be challenging for individual YouthBuild grantees.  By joining forces with other local YouthBuild programs, the talent pool expands, making the joint YouthBuild programs a stronger partner.  It is easier for YouthBuild grantees to consistently deliver graduates who are motivated, interested, and prepared, which then maximizes the return on the investment required to cultivate and sustain relationships with apprenticeship sponsors by ensuring that the apprenticeship partner has a successful experience with YouthBuild participant recruitment.  Working together to develop common criteria for apprenticeship readiness or adopting a common curriculum that aligns with the needs of the local labor market makes this collaboration even stronger because it generates additional incentive for employers and other apprenticeship sponsors to partner with YouthBuild grantees.

These acceleration strategies have proven successful in two different pilot projects that were designed to increase YouthBuild graduates’ access to apprenticeship opportunities in the construction field:

Metropolitan Atlanta YouthBuild Collaborative (MAYBC)

To address the challenge of partnership development for apprenticeship placement, five Department of Labor (DOL) YouthBuild grantees worked together with the Georgia State OA starting in 2017 to establish partnerships with employers, business associations, and labor management organizations that sponsor apprenticeships.  The Georgia State OA acted as a broker by introducing apprenticeship sponsors to the five YouthBuild grantees in the metropolitan Atlanta area. The Georgia State OA then played two key roles in accelerating connections between Registered Apprenticeship sponsors and YouthBuild grantees.  First, the OA educated YouthBuild grantees about the apprenticeship system, including the demand for a trained workforce.  Second, the OA brought apprenticeship sponsors to the table to meet with the Atlanta YouthBuild grantees. 

At the same time, the MAYBC took the time to connect with each other to develop a common collaborative approach and apprenticeship readiness criteria.  The MAYBC also worked together to establish the Construction Industry Advisory Council (CIAC), a group of thirty employers who were invited to attend two meetings to review apprenticeship readiness criteria and to help place YouthBuild graduates for entry into the construction industry.  “We held the first meeting of the CIAC in November 2017.  Our goal was to get feedback on the apprenticeship readiness criteria.  Only eight employers came to the initial meeting, so we put the criteria on Google Docs for other employers and apprenticeship sponsors unable to attend the meeting  to weigh in,” said Ed Hall, Director of Future Seekers YouthBuild located in Metropolitan Atlanta.  Hall continued, “We have used these meetings to learn more about the construction industry, and to provide new information to employers.  In February, the MAYBC wanted to know more about upcoming projects and immediate openings in the construction industry and we asked staff from Georgia Work Smart to talk about how employers could take advantage of WIOA funding to offset costs for internships.  This was well-received by the employers who came to the meeting.  During our final meeting in 2018, we are providing a progress report to the CIAC and showcasing YouthBuild graduates who have been placed in the industry.”  Programs were able to leverage their collective scale and interests that, taken together, strengthen the YouthBuild model.  

These efforts set the stage for three documented partnerships with apprenticeship sponsors, including a Building Trades Multi-Craft Core Curriculum Implementation Plan with the North Georgia Building and Construction Trades and Memoranda of Understanding with the Atlanta Independent Electrical Contractors and the Laborers’ Southeast Training Fund.  Thus far, seven graduates have been placed in either internships or construction industry jobs and ten YouthBuild graduates are applying to apprenticeship programs with the support of the MAYBC. 

Read more on this project

Los Angeles Regional YouthBuild Collaborative

In Los Angeles, YouthBuild grantees leveraged their collective strength as the Los Angeles Regional YouthBuild Collaborative in 2014 to create a sizable talent pool for the construction industry.  Los Angeles grantees created a set of common criteria for apprenticeship readiness by adapting the Building Trades Multi-Craft Core Curriculum, developing the YouthBuild Construction Academy as a bridge program for prospective apprentices, and establishing a construction industry advisory panel to provide advice on industry trends.  The Los Angeles Regional YouthBuild Collaborative has also successfully developed partnerships that have placed over 100 participants and community members into apprenticeship training over the past three years.  Placements were the result of coordinated efforts by these YouthBuild grantees to engage apprenticeship sponsors, employers, and other partners in the construction industry.  As labor market demand increased, the Los Angeles Regional YouthBuild Collaborative was in a good position to channel YouthBuild graduates into these opportunities.  

here for more information on how these partnerships were built. 

Be sure to check out the webinar recording from
Leveraging Relationships with Offices of Apprenticeship to Promote Apprenticeship Pathways, which was held on November 6th, 2018.  This webinar recounts the history of the pilot project in Atlanta and shares lessons learned from this work.

REMINDER: National Apprenticeship Week 2018, November 12-18

National Apprenticeship Week is a national celebration that offers leaders in business, labor, education, and other partners a chance to demonstrate their support for apprenticeship.  It also gives apprenticeship sponsors the opportunity to showcase their programs, facilities, and apprentices in their community.  This week provides an opportunity for local organizations to participate in, and create, apprenticeship-focused events to draw attention to this work.  You can find more information on events near you at the hyperlink above.  And you can also review the NAW 2017 Report for ideas from last year’s celebration.

Related Resources

DOL YouthBuild Registered Apprenticeship Toolkit

Resources to Assist Apprenticeship Programs

DOL Competency Model Clearinghouse

Supporting Community College Delivery of Apprenticeships

Additional Information 

Podcast - CareerWise Colorado: A Modern Youth Apprenticeship Model

Inspired by the Swiss model of apprenticeship, the CareerWise Colorado initiative seeks to enlist hundreds of employers from many sectors to employ thousands of high school students in the nation’s first large-scale youth apprenticeship program.  If a two-year pilot test goes well, the plan is to expand the model to a statewide scale, and eventually to expand it nationwide.  Join Katie Beal as she talks to Noel Ginsberg, CEO of CareerWise Colorado, and Gretchen Morgan, former president of CareerWise Colorado, about how the program works; the conversation touches on how they recruit employers, what students learn, and how the initiative is different from other apprenticeship models.  MDRC is currently working with CareerWise Colorado to help its leaders understand the factors that either impede or promote the smooth implementation of this complex initiative, so that the program can continue to improve.

Our Journey Together Webinar - Work Experiences in Rural Areas: Corps and Workforce Partnerships

The Division of Youth Services’ technical assistance series, Our Journey Together, provides support to workforce system professionals across the nation operating Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) youth programs.  On November 19th, from 2-3:30pm EST, there is a new Our Journey Together webinar, focusing on rural work experiences for WIOA Youth program participants through a corps model.  Join the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration, Division of Youth Services to learn how corps partnerships with the workforce system can create meaningful work experiences for youth.  The Corps Network will share promising practices they’ve found when corps and workforce development boards collaborate to prepare youth for careers and hear why corps programs can be good models for youth to gain work experience.  We’ll also learn what two local corps programs are doing to serve youth in rural areas with WIOA Youth program funds and the types of work experiences they offer their youth.  Register for this webinar

Youth Financial Literacy Technical Assistance Opportunity

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (the Bureau) is looking for youth employment programs that would like to join the Bureau’s 2019 Youth Employment Success (YES) Cohort.  This Cohort will focus on developing tools to help young workers better manage their financial lives.  Members of the cohort will help develop and test tools that enable programs to better prepare young adults to make important financial decisions that can, in turn, help overcome barriers to job retention and overall participation in employment programs. The Bureau wants young people and program staff to have tools and training that can help them make short-term and long-term choices that fit their needs.

The Bureau is seeking approximately five programs from across the country that are interested in starting or expanding initiatives on financial capability for young adults participating in job readiness programs.  Programs that are selected to participate will benefit from early access to training on a new tool to help young adults manage their transportation options and costs and a chance to provide input on how the tool is developed.

If you think your program and participants would benefit from a tool and training around financial capability for young adults, please email with a Letter of Interest by November 26, 2018.  Organizations must include a point of contact in submissions as well as information about their eligibility for selection.

Organizations that meet the following criteria will be considered for selection:
  • Mission alignment: Offer year-round job training programs to economically vulnerable young adults aged 16-24 that are entering the workforce.  Have a demonstrated interest in integrating financial capability offerings to young adult participants.
  • Organizational capacity: Have capacity to dedicate staff time to support site visits and check-ins.
  • Target population: Demonstrate how many young adults are served every six months, with a preference towards traditionally underserved and economically vulnerable young adults.
  • Willingness to share feedback: Have a commitment to sharing aggregated, de-identified information on key performance indicators related to the financial capability tool and training to help track progress of the pilot.
  • Relationships with similar programs: Have established relationships with other job training programs (e.g., WIOA state workforce boards or nationwide non-profits).
The Bureau will work with the selected programs to co-develop a new tool for young adults in job training programs across the country. Through this initiative, they hope to help selected programs implement practices and approaches to understanding how young adults choose and budget for their commute. For more information on integrating financial capability into youth employment programs, please see the youth employment page.
Copyright © 2018 DOL YouthBuild, All rights reserved.

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