Federal Youth Apprentice Pathway Program (U.S. Department of Labor's ETA)

Overview

In 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) launched the first Federal Youth Apprentice Pathway program. The program focuses on ways the federal agencies can partner with Registered Apprenticeship Intermediaries to create high-quality career pathways to good federal jobs—with apprentices gaining valuable career training and experience working in the federal Offices of Apprenticeship, Workforce Investment, and Job Corps.

Key features of the new federal program:

  • 3-year career progression
  • Experienced mentor matched to apprentice to share experience, provide ongoing advice and support, and support the apprentice’s job duties
  • Apprentices have the opportunity to enter into a permanent federal position upon successful completion of the program—opportunities include many different federal careers in program implementation and administration
  • Apprenticeship job opportunities posted on USAJobs
  • Builds and expands the National Apprenticeship System overall.

Job Duties of Apprentices

The Workforce Project Apprentice (USAJobs occupation title Student Trainee — Workforce) provides support to staff with various ETA workforce development and youth-related program and administrative duties that support program operations and strategy. Job duties can include:

  • Support planning and meeting logistics of multiple events, large scale projects, and initiatives (e.g. Youth Apprenticeship Week, Job Corps events, grant technical assistance events.)
  • Support development of youth awareness campaigns and outreach strategies.
  • Engage with youth apprentices, job corps students, and pre-apprentices to identify best practices and areas of improvement to inform program policies and strategies moving forward.
  • Compile and disseminate youth employment related success stories, videos, and other promotional materials.
  • Create and participate in a peer networking group with the other Federal Youth Apprentices to support each other, share lessons learned, and increase coordination across the three participating offices.
  • Build sustainable relationships and negotiate and develop collaborative working relationships with office staff by:
  • Supporting office team in the development and distribution of technical assistance tools.
  • Reviewing and editing materials to meet quality specifications, including formatting and consistent text, and accessibility standards.
  • Conducting basic research such as reviewing multiple long documents to find specific descriptions.
  • Providing high-level customer service to all office Partners and Stakeholders.
  • Communicating in team meetings in a manner that facilitates accomplishment of goals.
  • Learning grants management skills and processes.
  • Participating in training sessions to learn about various ETA programs such as Registered Apprenticeship, Job Corps, and Youthbuild etc.
  • Meeting with mentor and ICF support team on regular basis to ensure competencies are being met and apprenticeship experience is a success.
  • Participating in rotational opportunities to other ETA offices.
  • Booking meetings and conference rooms for staff as needed.
  • Responding to correspondence and questions received by email or phone and making sure answered in a timely fashion.
  • Attending meetings (webinars, training), which may include recording feedback from stakeholders or meeting participants, and ensuring the agency delivers materials and information discussed in the meeting.
  • Supporting preparation and distribution of outreach materials; provide ideas and suggestions on how to reach more youth, parents, teachers, counselors, etc.

Federal Apprenticeship Programs

The ETA provides a variety of programs to ensure that all youth have the skills and training to successfully make the transition to adulthood and careers:

  • Apprenticeship - A combination of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction in which workers learn the practical and theoretical aspects of a highly skilled occupation. Applicants for apprenticeship programs must be at least 16 years old and meet the program sponsor's qualifications.
  • Job Corps – The nation's largest and most comprehensive residential education and job training program for at-risk youth, ages 16-24. Private companies, state agencies, federal agencies, and unions recruit young people to participate in Job Corps, where they can train for and be placed in jobs.
  • YouthBuild - Programs give at-risk youth ages 16-24 the opportunity to transform their lives by earning their high school diploma or state-recognized equivalency degree, learning to be community leaders, and preparing for college and other post-secondary training opportunities.
  • Youth Connections - The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014 enacted a comprehensive youth employment program for serving eligible youth, ages 14-24, who face barriers to education, training, and employment.

Background

As reported by the Urban Institute, some one-third of apprentices in the U.S. are between 16-24 years old at registration (30-40% of apprentices in any given year); a much smaller portion of apprentices are 16-18 years old.

Young people confront numerous challenges as they transition from school to work. These include high unemployment and underemployment, tight hiring requirements for higher-paying middle-skills jobs, and increasing costs for college. Registered Apprenticeship offer opportunities for youth to acquire valuable occupational skills while earning wages. These opportunities are designed to help reduce the challenges that many young people face in seeking employment.

For all apprenticeship programs, coordination is important among the key partners in programs (sponsors, employers, providers of related technical instruction) — and coordination is more important when working with youth. Employers and high schools must work together to design flexible schedules so students can complete high school diploma requirements and required on- the-job training (OJT) hours for Registered Apprenticeships. When related technical instruction is delivered at a community or technical college, the colleges and high schools may need to work to provide dual (concurrent) credit opportunities. Parents too may need additional information on apprenticeships.

To facilitate needed coordination among the partners in apprenticeship programs, a youth apprenticeship coordinator is often designated by the school system and/or a Registered Apprenticeship Intermediary. The role of the intermediary is to communicate among the partners and take on tasks such as student and employer matching, participant and employer recruitment, and managing registration. The intermediary role can be taken by high schools, community and technical colleges, nonprofit organizations, state agencies, or workforce development councils.

Resources

American Job Finder Center: https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/AmericanJobCenters/find-american-job-centers.aspx

Apprenticeship Occupations: https://www.apprenticeship.gov/apprenticeship-occupations

Employment and Training Administration

https://www.apprenticeship.gov/educators/federal-youth-apprentice-pathway-program

https://www.apprenticeship.gov/apprenticeship-job-finder

Kuehn, D.; Payne, J.; & Trutko, J. (January 2023).  Research Report: Youth Apprenticeship in the United States — Apprenticeship Evidence-Building Portfolio. Urban Institute Capital Research Corporation. https://www.dol.gov/sites/dolgov/files/ETA/publications/ETAOP_2023_04_Youth_Apprenticeship_in_the_U.S.-White_Paper.pdf

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