The shortage of skilled trades workers has become an urgent issue for employers. Greater investment in youth apprenticeship can be a key part of the solution. Youth apprenticeship combines paid on-the-job training with classroom instruction and students are assessed against skill standards and acquire nationally recognized industry credentials.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported more than 636,000 active participants in the apprenticeship system between October 2019 and September 2020. During that same period, 3,143 new apprenticeship programs were established nationwide—a 73 percent growth from 2009. According to federal data, four of the five top industries with active apprenticeship programs from FY 2020 fall under the skilled trades umbrella (Construction, Manufacturing, Transportation and Warehousing, and Utilities).
To help fulfill this growing need, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools made a second investment in Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA). An initiative of the New America Foundation, PAYA’s mission is to provide more pathways to success for young people by improving public understanding of high-quality apprenticeships, accelerating and intensifying learning, and supporting more high quality, scalable youth apprenticeship partnerships.
Building off the progress from the first grant’s success, this new investment will implement three high-impact priorities:
- Increase support for intermediary organizations, which work with educators to align instruction provided to students to the workforce needs of the community.
- Connect innovative leaders from across trades education and training networks so they can share ideas, strategies, and resources.
- Build an expanded research and evidence database to advance our understanding of what drives success in work-based learning and identify the most effective approaches to meet industry needs.
PAYA will release a brief of major findings from their previous study on challenges and opportunities in skilled trades youth apprenticeship. The brief will be followed by a three-part blog series showcasing leading youth apprenticeship programs, with details about the policy or funding that have supported their success. PAYA will host a convening of a Skilled Trades National Work Group comprised of educators, intermediary organizations, and employer and labor representatives, bringing together diverse perspectives to support the quality, growth, and sustainability of the skilled trades youth apprenticeship field.