March 26, 2019
In mid-March, the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA), an initiative led by New America, convened over 180 key stakeholders at the PAYA National Meeting, a two-day conference held in Charleston, South Carolina. Hosted by Trident Technical College (TTC), a National Partner of PAYA, the dynamic event was the largest of its kind to date, drawing leaders from 36 states and some of the country’s biggest cities, including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York.
Throughout the two days, participants from state and local agencies, K-12 school systems, community and technical colleges, and employers from a wide range of sectors shared their enthusiasm for a more robust youth apprenticeship system that offers pathways for students to learn while they earn.
Day One of the meeting featured an introduction to the PAYA National Principles for High-Quality Youth Apprenticeship and latest PAYA infographic, along with a deep dive into the Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeship Program, a national exemplar program coordinated by Trident Technical College. Panels throughout Day One included voices of key stakeholders in Charleston’s program, including local K-12 district leaders, local employers who employ youth apprentices, and a number of current and former youth apprentices, whose achievements and perspectives were a highlight of the day. Links to video of these and other sessions from the PAYA National Meeting are available below.
Lunch keynote speaker Barbara Humpton, CEO, Siemens USA and Chair, Siemens Foundation, recognized the remarkable growth and success of the Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeship Program. Humpton described Siemens USA own apprentice programs, which she noted have been developed as a response to the tremendous need for STEM and middle-skill workers. Humpton expressed a belief that “access to education and training should be as abundant as talent in our society,” and noted that apprenticeship can be a strategy for increasing the number of people of color and women in STEM fields.
Day Two of the National Meeting sought to contextualize the Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeship Program within the expanding national landscape of youth apprenticeship, and to equip participants with practical tools and strategies to support its continued growth in their home communities. To kick off the morning, Scott Stump, Assistant Secretary for Career, Technical, and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education issued “a bold challenge to change the perception of what it means to be skilled,” and helped attendees understand how youth apprenticeship can enhance high-quality career and technical education pathways.
A series of breakout sessions followed, providing an opportunity for attendees to discuss discrete topics related to launching, expanding, and improving youth apprenticeship opportunities. The breakout sessions (presentations linked below), most led by PAYA National Partner organizations, tackled key challenges and issues, including:
- Seeing Connections in PAYA & Perkins V (Slides)
- Equity in Youth Apprenticeship = Access, Inclusion, and Continuous Improvement (Slides & Handout)
- Strategies for Scaling College and Career Pathways Ecosystems (Slides)
- States' Role in Creating and Expanding High-Quality Youth Apprenticeship Programs (Slides 1 & Slides 2)
- Developing a System-Building Agenda: Lessons Learned from Washington State
- Developing Partnerships for Successful Youth Apprenticeship Programs
- Leveraging Intermediaries to Build, Scale and Sustain Youth Apprenticeship
- Making Youth Apprenticeship Work for High School Students: Primary Issues for Secondary Schools
- The Ins & Outs of Registering Youth Apprenticeship: A How-To Session
Over lunch, Mayor Randall Woodfin of Birmingham, Alabama, energized the meeting by announcing a $1 million commitment from the city to support the expansion of youth apprenticeship, and vowed to be the “Chief Convener” to bring together the “islands” of K-12 education, higher education, workforce development, and the employer community to work in partnership to create greater opportunity for Birmingham’s young people. Through the investment, he hopes to send a clear message to parents in Birmingham:
“We believe in your child. We know you believe in your child. Here is a path and another opportunity for your child. That will be the conversation we have. The money is important, but more [important is] changing the culture in our community to embrace apprenticeship.”
The final panel of the meeting featured voices from leaders from several state and cities leading the way in “embracing” apprenticeship—and, in particular, youth apprenticeship—as a strategy to drive more inclusive economic growth. Panelists discussed the different approaches Colorado, Washington, South Carolina, New Jersey and San Francisco have taken to build systems to support youth apprenticeship. Said Suzi Levine, Commissioner of the Washington State Employment Security Department, “From a systems standpoint, it’s looking at what would be approachable for your respective state: What do you already have that’s existing? And where do you need to start in that process [of building new systems and capacity]?’"
Over the coming months, PAYA will continue to create opportunities for youth apprenticeship practitioners to exchange best practice and both learn from and inform the Partnership’s research and communications priorities. To receive updates about PAYA activities and upcoming events, please subscribe here.
Other Session Materials: