Blog right triangle A Win-Win Solution: How Youth Apprenticeships Benefit Both Companies and Students
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A Win-Win Solution: How Youth Apprenticeships Benefit Both Companies and Students

By Adam Vitcavage

Mile High United Way stands as a beacon of community support and empowerment. Amidst its various initiatives, one program shines brightly not only for the organization but also for the individuals it serves: the apprenticeship program. At the heart of this program is Richard Fox, Vice President of IT Operations at Mile High United Way, whose passion for nurturing talent and fostering innovation has become synonymous with the organization’s ethos.

Since the inception of their apprenticeship program, United Way has seen the value that fresh perspectives and youthful enthusiasm bring to the table. Richard Fox is currently supervising his third apprenticeship since they partnered with CareerWise to bring in a youth apprenticeship program.

“For us, fresh ideas are hard to come by sometimes with people who are established in the field,” Richard said. “Getting a fresh set of eyes is helpful for us.”

Fox’s third, and current, apprentice Sully Herrer, is the kind of apprentice that organizations dream of. Richard notes that Sully’s keen understanding of technology trends has already benefited Mile High United Way.

“Sully in particular is helping come up with new policies and procedures,” Fox said. Sully’s dedication and initiative have not gone unnoticed. He has presented a new password policy to executives and the organization is taking what Sully started and building off of it.

While the organization is benefiting from Sully, the youth apprentice is also benefiting from his time at Mile High United Way.

“My organization and time management have improved greatly since starting my youth apprenticeship,” Sully said. “I have developed certain processes and workflows that help me optimize my workday and make sure that I am prioritizing all of my items effectively.”

He’s also learned the career field he is in is much bigger than he thought, which led to him taking a harder look at his future. While he awaits his next steps, he continues to grow at Mile High United Way.

“My roles and responsibilities have shifted drastically over the course of my apprenticeship as my organization’s needs and priorities have changed,” Sully said. “For the most part, youth apprentices don’t bring in any bad habits as well, meaning that they are most open to change. Youth apprentices really are a win-win, as the apprentice can get some much needed work experience and learn relevant skills while the organization can take advantage of the apprentice’s interests, adaptability, and energy that they bring to the workplace.”

His knowledge and flexibility are exactly why Richard Fox is all in on continuing the youth apprenticeship program at his organization.

“I am pushing for apprenticeships to be part of our future,” Richard said. “I have been pitched a new 15-month full-time apprenticeship by CareerWise which is very appealing. We can really lean into this being part of our model to have a full-time apprentice for our help desk position.”

He has seen his apprentices take advantage of opportunities he wishes he had when starting his career. In addition to their daily tasks, he encourages apprentices to get certificates, which he feels are more indicative of skills and allow him to judge a job candidate’s skills a little better than a general college degree. For instance, Sully is currently obtaining his fourth IT certification.

Fox envisions a future where apprenticeships serve as a cornerstone of talent development, empowering individuals to reach their full potential while driving innovation and progress within Mile High United Way and beyond.