States and Cities Receive Millions in Youth Apprenticeship Readiness Grants from the U.S. Department of Labor

The federal government awarded grants to support the development and expansion of youth apprenticeship programs
Blog Post
Dec. 15, 2020

This summer, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) awarded over $42 million in Youth Apprenticeship Readiness grants to 14 organizations to increase youth participation in new or existing Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs). This investment marks the first federal initiative targeted specifically at youth apprenticeship since the School-to-Work Opportunities Act nearly 25 years ago, and will provide resources to expand apprenticeship opportunities at a critical time for young adults. In particular, the investment encourages programs to improve apprenticeship access and outcomes for historically underserved populations, including women, people of color, ex-offenders, persons with disabilities, youth with barriers to employment, and out-of-school youth.

The fourteen Youth Apprenticeship Readiness (YAR) grant recipients will implement strategies to increase youth participation in new or existing Registered Apprenticeship Programs (RAPs) across a range of industries, including healthcare, IT, advanced manufacturing, and social services. Seven PAYA Network members were involved in successful applications, which received roughly $23 million overall. Several YAR grantees, such as Apprenticeship Carolina and Idaho Workforce Development Council, have proposed strategies to replicate youth apprenticeship pilot programs across a region or state. Others will build on the success of existing pre-apprenticeship programs or registered apprenticeship systems, building stronger pathways to credentials and careers for youth. Regardless of their approach, however, all YAR grantees will prioritize strengthening collaborations between education and workforce systems at both the state and local levels.

This fall, we caught up with system leaders in seven states to learn more about their ambitious plans for developing and expanding youth apprenticeship in their communities, through partnerships supported by this historic federal investment.



The Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity will focus on extending their successful adult apprenticeship opportunities to high school-aged students, as employers in the state grow increasingly concerned with developing their talent pipeline. The state plans to expand upon work already underway in Jackson,Mi., where fifty apprentices are dually enrolled in advanced manufacturing related instruction. Michigan will then adapt best practices from this pilot to enroll over 1,000 new youth apprentices over the next 4 years, at least 124 of whom will be youth with disabilities. The agency will also host a grant competition to incentivize regions to form consortium partnerships and expand youth apprenticeship into the healthcare, energy, construction, advanced manufacturing, and information technology sectors. In addition, the department will continue to engage interested state policy makers to cultivate an environment for youth apprenticeship expansion across the state.

Partners include: Office of Career and Technical Education at the Michigan Department of Education, Jackson Area Manufacturers Association, Michigan Career Placement Association, Michigan Manufacturers Association, MichiganWorks! Association, Michigan Health Council, and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and state and regional vocational rehabilitation services partners


Idaho Icon

The Idaho Workforce Development Council will lead the state’s youth apprenticeship expansion in partnership with Idaho Business for Education, which will serve as an intermediary and play a critical role in convening employers in fields such as cybersecurity, HVAC, precision machining, and healthcare. The initiative will build off Dennis Technical Education Center’s pilot high school apprenticeship model in Boise, as well as the School to Registered Apprenticeship Program (STRAP), a collaboration between two high schools and local employers in the Magic Valley region. These exciting developments in the state, in addition to the success of recent virtual apprenticeship programs, have fueled momentum for youth apprenticeship expansion in rural districts as well.

Partners include: Idaho Career & Technical Education, the Idaho State Board of Education, and the Idaho Department of Labor


Oklahoma Icon

The Office of Workforce Development (OOWD) at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce will lead a state partnership to strengthen education-to-workforce pathways through youth apprenticeship. This state partnership will build on the groundwork laid by existing models such as the Dell EMC IT apprenticeship program in Oklahoma City, to enroll 200 students over the next four years. In addition, the partnership will develop programs in manufacturing, construction, and IT by engaging the local unions and industry associations. While OOWD intends to offer incentive dollars to encourage both union and non-union employers to hire youth apprentices, they will also promote legislation that would create an apprenticeship tax credit for employers. Finally, OOWD will tap into the unique data-sharing agreement between the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, and the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs to build and align data systems that prioritize accountability and continuous improvement for youth apprenticeship in the state.

Partners include: Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs, Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services, Oklahoma State Department of Education, Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education, Oklahoma State Regents For Higher Education, Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development, Oklahoma State Building and Construction Trades Council, and the Oklahoma Manufacturing Alliance


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In a state with a strong adult apprenticeship system, Alaska plans to seize the current momentum to include youth in its programs as well. In partnership with the Alaska Department of Workforce Development, Alaska Works Partnership Inc. plans to enroll 330 youth in registered youth apprenticeship programs and establish 40 new registered programs in healthcare, telecommunications, maritime transportation, social services, construction, ground transportation, and mechanics. To do so, Alaska Works will coordinate with, and expand upon, existing pre-apprenticeship programs in the state. The state’s major goals include establishing a statewide definition for youth apprenticeship, developing a branded marketing strategy that emphasizes employer engagement, and solidifying dual credit articulation for seamless credit transition pathways.

Partners include: Associated General Contractors of Alaska, Alaska Apprenticeship Training Coordinators Association, Alaska Vocational Technical Center, Alaska Primary Care Association, Anchorage School District


Delaware Icon

The Delaware Department of Education will spearhead an initiative to serve 400 students in registered apprenticeship programs over the next four years. Through public-private partnerships, the state will build upon its Career & Technical Education (CTE) system, in which more than 70% of students in grades 9 to 12 are already enrolled, to include youth apprenticeship as a CTE program of study. Additionally, pre-apprenticeship programs will be scaled across the adult vocational system and statewide community/technical college system. This will allow both in-school and out-of-school youth to enroll in programs in sectors with high job placement rates such as the skilled trades, hospitality, and information technology. Students will earn postsecondary credit through articulated and dual enrollment courses, as well as stackable industry recognized credentials, and then have an opportunity to transition into adult apprenticeship programs, earning additional credentials and state licensure and/or into two- and four-year degree programs. Additionally, the agency will collaborate with the Delaware Department of Labor to advance a policy agenda and convene a community of practice to connect policymakers with practitioners across the state. The agencies will also develop a sustainable funding model that braids federal, state, and local education and workforce funds with private resources to further scale youth apprenticeship in Delaware.

Partners include: (1) State Agencies: Delaware Department of Education, Delaware Department of Labor, and the Delaware Workforce Development Board; (2) Education and Training Institutions: New Castle County Vocational-Technical School District, POLYTECH School District, Sussex County Technical School District, and Delaware Technical Community College; (3) Employer Associations and Intermediaries: ABC Delaware, the Delaware Contractors Association, Delaware Restaurant Association, Tech Impact, and Jobs For The Future; and (4) Lead Employers: Mumford & Miller, RC Fabricators, Nickle Electric, Advantech, M. Davis & Sons, Schlosser & Associates, SoDel Concepts, and Computer Aid Inc.

South Carolina

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Apprenticeship Carolina, a statewide apprenticeship intermediary housed within the South Carolina Technical College System, will lead efforts to scale the existing Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeship Program and enroll 800 youth apprentices statewide over the next four years. The grant will fund youth apprentices’ tuition and the provision of supportive services through four new Youth Apprenticeship Coordinators at the technical colleges. The federal investment will also provide critical resources to support regional youth apprenticeship councils, which include technical colleges and other education, business, and workforce partners, to develop youth apprenticeship in high-growth industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, construction, transportation, automotive, and IT. In addition, Apprenticeship Carolina will continue to convene all of the regional colleges to align on the state’s youth apprenticeship goals, including developing new marketing tools and employer resources.

Partners include: South Carolina Department of Education, South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, South Carolina Department of Commerce, South Carolina Department of Social Services, 16 technical colleges, Manufacturers Alliance, SC Hospital Association, and other industry and workforce partners. Examples of main employer partners include BMW, Trident Heath, Arthrex, Nephron Pharmaceuticals, Palmetto Synthetics, McLeod Information Systems, Kion, CBE IT Solutions, Trane, Embroidery Solutions, Spartanburg Regional Medical Center, Michelin, Draexlmaier, and many other companies

San Antonio, Texas

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Alamo Community College District, Palo Alto College, and San Antonio Works (SA Works) will lead this locally-grown, regionally-focused program in Texas to serve 1,200 youth apprentices over four years. About 800 of these apprentices will be enrolled in Registered Apprenticeships. The program will target foster youth and youth enrolled in the Alamo Promise program, which covers postsecondary tuition for low-income high school students. SA Works will facilitate relationships with employers in high-demand sectors such as financial services and advanced manufacturing, while expanding the ongoing apprenticeship activity in IT and healthcare. Alamo Community College District will serve as the student-facing entity to provide pre-apprenticeship programs with wrap-around services to help students enroll and persist in Registered Apprenticeship programs. At the state level, the program will participate in a learning network through Educate Texas that will align the efforts of regional programs, develop a community of business, education, and community leaders, share effective practices and resources, and build a common voice to advocate for supportive policy. More information about the Texas Youth Apprenticeship Partnership, a PAYA grantee, can be found here).

Partners include: Palo Alto College/Alamo Colleges, SA Works, Educate Texas,Cox Manufacturing, BB&T Bank, Workforce Solutions Alamo, Bexar County Children's Court, Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot program, AlamoPromise, San Antonio Manufacturers Association, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation

As workforce and education leaders across the country look to adapt to a changing economy and grow and retain local talent, youth apprenticeship offers an opportunity for state leaders to support youth in an economic recovery and future talent development efforts. However, they can’t do it alone. The significant federal investment will provide critical resources to support strong state, regional, and local partnerships that will be necessary to expand youth apprenticeship programs and build the statewide infrastructure to link programs and support their sustainability over time.

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