DENVER – Nov. 16, 2022 –  CareerWise Colorado today announced two of its youth apprentices, Alexa Garcia Chairez and Nina Hernandez, and its employer partner, Pinnacol Assurance, are winners of the Colorado Apprenticeship Awards.

Alexa Garcia Chairez, 2022 Colorado Apprenticeship Award Winner (Apprentice)
Garcia is a manufacturing apprentice at Tolmar, Inc. and alumna of Windsor High School. Alexa is a young woman of color pursuing a Maintenance Technician Apprenticeship in the Manufacturing Pathway. In a traditionally male-dominated space, she is excelling in the field, continuing to learn and grow, and striving to become a full-time maintenance technician. “I want to do the industrial technology program. It aligns with my apprenticeship, and it will help me be more successful here [at Tolmar] and give me more opportunities,” said Garcia.

Nina Hernandez, 2022 Colorado Apprenticeship Award Winner (Apprentice)
Hernandez is an Employee Services apprentice at Pinnacol Assurance, alumna of Denver North High School, co-chair of Pinnacol’s LGBTQIA+ Employee Resource Group, and an advocate for the community. Passionate about DEI and a supportive workplace, Nina was drawn to Employee Services. Hernandez flawlessly executes technology integration tasks and created a professional development plan that’s now a program standard. “If we continue to support Nina’s gifts and talents, we’ll be better for it. You don’t come across this type of potential every day,” said Nina’s mentor, Silvia Fuentes.

Pinnacol Assurance, 2022 Colorado Apprenticeship Award Winner (Employer)
Pinnacol has been a tireless and passionate partner in the youth apprenticeship movement since CareerWise Colorado launched its first cohort of youth apprentices in 2017. Now on their sixth cohort, Pinnacol has brought on a total of 63 apprentices. Of those 63, approximately 12 apprentices have been hired into permanent positions with the company in a range of occupations and roles.

The company’s apprenticeship program is designed around a cohort model in order to foster a team learning environment that builds camaraderie and shared experience among apprentices, which is particularly important as apprentices are hired from different schools within different school districts. Apprentices begin the program working and training together, developing career-readiness skills and understanding of the company, benefiting from exposure various departments.

Pinnacol’s apprentices are registered with the USDOL and work to obtain their certificate of completion while also completing an industry-recognized credential or certification relevant to their specific department (ex. Property-Casualty Insurance Fundamentals Certification, IBM Data Science Certification, pathway specific CompTIA credentials, Remote Work certificate), and are offered the opportunity to pursue post-secondary education as well, many earning college credit for coursework related to their occupation. Pinnacol’s apprentices focus on developing proficiency in self-management and advocacy, creativity and adaptability, critical thinking, organization and planning, reliability, cultural competence, relationships and collaboration, and communication.

About CareerWise Colorado
CareerWise Colorado’s youth apprenticeship system creates new, diverse talent pipelines for employers and new career pathways for students to access high-demand, high-paying careers. Student apprentices work toward high school graduation and earn postsecondary credit, industry credentials or both in their chosen career path. Established by the state of Colorado’s Business Experiential-Learning (BEL) Commission in 2016, CareerWise works with more than 170 employers and school districts to facilitate apprenticeship. More information is available at


Media Contact:
Jason Jansky, CareerWise
(303) 748-3300