Things are tough all over these days. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t rays of light—both in our everyday lives as we go about navigating school, work, families and friends, as well as in our growing youth apprenticeship system.
The sudden economic downturn has seen the elimination of almost all work-based learning programs like job shadowing and internships. But youth apprenticeship has remained a strong presence with our employer partners. Sixty-seven percent of CareerWise apprentices are still at work. Some are working remotely; some are at work in modified-for-safety environments. But each one of those apprentices are still at work because they have proven their value to their employers.
Even in the face of tens of millions of unemployment claims, CareerWise apprentices are proving their value every day. For example, Aidan and Samuel, information technology apprentices at TTEC, have been instrumental in helping the company transition their national workforce to a virtual work environment. Since the pandemic began, they’ve been onsite (adhering to strict social distancing guidelines) following through on procedures to ensure that the correct equipment and components—such as ready-imaged SSDs for laptops—make it to employees across the country so they can work from home and the business can remain operational.
Apprentices are learning by doing meaningful work alongside their professional colleagues. They’re part of the team, pulling their weight. Youth apprenticeship is the most economical application of work-based learning because the learning is tied to meaningful work. By working with in-school youth, CareerWise is maximizing the value proposition of apprenticeship for the employer, the student and the community. Employers benefit from the training wages, apprentices apply real-world experience to their academic studies and the community benefits by increased access to social capital and a stronger middle class. The value apprentices bring to the workforce today is bearing out in these employment numbers, but the value to our economy tomorrow is in the essential soft skills like adaptability, problem solving and collaboration that apprenticeship develops in our workforce.