What Makes an Apprenticeship “Modern?”

Apprenticeship isn’t a new idea. In fact, it’s a really old idea. That’s a good and bad thing when it comes to helping people understand what a CareerWise apprenticeship means for students and businesses.

On one hand, “apprenticeship” is understood to be an on-the-job training program that results in a skilled worker…and often times results in a job offer upon completion. But on the other hand, we’re challenged with the antiquated perception of what an apprenticeship can be. Typically, people think of an apprentice as an adult man working in a skilled trade such as plumbing or pipefitting, which is often accompanied with the assumption that apprentices don’t have the means or the ability to go to college.

But a modern youth apprenticeship paints a different picture of an apprentice. First of all, our CareerWise youth apprentices are current high school students. CareerWise apprenticeships are typically three-year experiences that begin in the student’s junior year. Secondly, a modern apprenticeship is not limited to the skilled-trade professions. In fact, ninety percent of CareerWise apprentices are working in white-collar roles; current pathways include Information Technology, Healthcare, Advanced Manufacturing, Financial Services and Business Operations. These fields have been identified by a variety of businesses and industries as areas of high-growth, high-demand, and high-paying jobs.

Possibly the most important aspect of what makes an apprenticeship “modern” is the higher-education component. CareerWise apprentices will earn a year’s worth of college credit during the course of the apprenticeship, and, beyond the debt-free credit, apprentices are better equipped for college. Not only does apprenticeship make college more attainable, it provides a more focused higher-education experience (who among us doesn’t know someone—maybe it’s you!—who went to college immediately after high school because that’s what was expected of you…instead going to school based on a knowledge of exactly how it would benefit career goals?). Lastly, students that attend college after apprenticeship gain the maturity that comes with spending some time in the “real world” where actions have consequences.

The logistical model of a modern youth apprenticeship—the practical nuts and bolts of making sure it works for both students and businesses—also sets it apart from traditional apprenticeship. CareerWise is a nonprofit intermediary that is working statewide to connect the complex structures of education and industry. In the past, apprenticeships have been designed, implemented and managed by either schools, individual businesses, trade associations, labor unions or sometimes by the government. CareerWise is a private-public partnership that designed its apprenticeship program to cross state geography and industry, while providing tangible benefit to both the businesses that hire apprentices and the students who work as apprentices. There are no government incentives or subsidies; each player is motivated to participate by the inherent, natural incentives that the system offers them.

So, next time you hear the word “apprentice,” challenge yourself to think of a student in a suit creating an accounts receivable ledger, or in a lab coat recording a patient’s vitals, or acing a college midterm at a four-year university, or…well, you get the picture. A modern youth apprenticeship provides endless career and education possibilities.