What the Center Does

With a growing community of stakeholders working in the field, the Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning takes an important step in bringing together national resources and technical assistance expertise in one place. The Center is a community where employers, state and local practitioners, the growing network of intermediaries, and others can easily access current resources, share proven and promising practices, and test new approaches.

Together, we can create positive results for employers, students, workers, and traditionally underrepresented communities in need of career pathway and training opportunities.

Even with a track record of success, efforts to expand apprenticeship have struggled due to misperceptions about modern apprenticeships, a void of centralized cross-sector support, and a lack of coordinated efforts.

The Center for Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning provides assistance and resources for a range of organizations interested in learning how these strategies can meet their needs.

  • Business: Finding the talent to keep your business running is hard enough. We’ll show you how these programs can deliver the return on investment you need and connect you with the team to get it done. As an employer, you can lead the way for your company and your industry to create access and career opportunities and pathways that make you and your workers more productive.
  • State and Local Workforce and Education Systems: Learn how others successfully recruit employers and align resources to build partnerships that deliver results for employers and jobseekers.
  • Postsecondary Education: Learn about the growing number of community and technical colleges that have engaged in apprenticeship and work-based learning with employers, labor unions, and other partners. See what tools you can use to integrate work-based learning into your courses or prepare students for apprenticeship programs, and explore the evidence behind competency-based advancement.
  • K-12 Education: Find out how state and local school districts are engaging in apprenticeship, pre-apprenticeship, and other forms of work-based learning. Schools and districts around the country are using these strategies to meet college and career readiness goals. Discover tips and tools for building education-industry partnerships and scaling work-based learning.
  • Unions/Labor: You’ve set the standard for years. Now you can leverage the latest resources and the Center community to expand your reach into new communities and industries.
  • Government: How can you replicate and scale what’s working? Go behind the numbers and behind the scenes to get the most rigorous evidence and the most compelling personal stories.
  • Intermediaries: Intermediaries play a key role in aggregating employer demand and working with businesses and other partners to grow and scale apprenticeship and other forms of work-based learning. Your ability to connect the dots between traditional and disruptive stakeholders often means the difference between success and failure. Share what’s working and explore new opportunities to get involved.

Throughout our 35-year history, Jobs for the Future (JFF) has established expertise as a leader in developing and expanding apprenticeship and work-based learning models. With experts on both U.S. and international apprenticeship issues and opportunities, JFF is an ideal partner for employers, business intermediaries, workforce organizations and others who want to seize this opportunity to develop a skilled workforce.

Services for Employers

At the core of this work is the engagement of employers—at scale—to be involved with the education and training systems from which they receive much of their talent. JFF can work with a range of industries, or individual companies, as well as state and local leaders, to develop high-quality apprenticeship or work-based learning programs that support building a skilled and diverse workforce. This work includes assessing local workforce needs, identifying occupations and training goals, developing training standards, and assisting with brokering and organizing local partnerships needed to develop sustainable programs.

Services for Intermediaries

The Center will provide support and technical assistance to grow emerging apprenticeship intermediaries to help industry develop high-quality apprenticeship programs in multiple industry sectors. Intermediaries facilitate employer-led partnerships, provide technical assistance, and develop occupational standards to help guide partnerships establishing new apprenticeship programs. Intermediaries are used extensively in European apprenticeship systems and are an emerging need in the U.S. system.  Apprenticeship intermediaries aggregate the needs of employers within industry sectors to ease the administrative burdens of delivering training for both employers and training providers. JFF will help intermediaries build bridges among multiple employers in a region to create an economy of scale in developing apprenticeship programs. We will assist intermediaries in playing a crucial role of convener, connecting employers with a range of key stakeholders—including industry associations, the public workforce system, community and technical colleges, community-based organizations, and others.

Current Apprenticeship Projects

JFF has managed three grants and contracts from the U.S. Department of Labor aimed at expanding apprenticeship to new industries, and modernizing apprenticeship for advanced manufacturing. In partnership with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation and the American Hotel and Lodging Association, we’re helping to create more than 2,200 apprenticeships in the hospitality industry. JFF is also working with manufacturing associations to train over 2,200 apprentices by 2021. To learn more, visit jff.org/apprenticeship.

Typically thought of as a workforce strategy for adults, apprenticeship is a valuable work-based learning opportunity that can provide youth with academic and workplace skills that lead to postsecondary education opportunities and careers. Youth apprenticeship is typically a structured combination of school-based and work-based learning leading directly to employment or further postsecondary education. Given JFF’s deep engagement in youth career pathway development, apprenticeship, and other forms of work-based learning, we can be helpful to states and local areas trying to develop these cutting-edge innovations.

Current Work-Based Learning Projects

JFF provides technical assistance to sites across the country that are developing and scaling work-based learning opportunities.

  • Funded by the National Science Foundation, JFF is launching a three-year research study of the impact of credit-bearing internships in STEM on community college outcomes. Combining quantitative and qualitative analysis of two community colleges in Florida, findings will provide insight into what makes a strong work-based-learning system, how community colleges can successfully partner with employers, and how internships can be used to broaden participation in STEM.  
  • As part of our work with the James L. Irvine Foundation’s Linked Learning Regional Hubs of Excellence initiative, JFF is building the capacity of school districts in California to develop and scale work-based learning opportunities for high school students.
  • Our Back on Track team integrates work-based learning into their efforts to build career pathways for opportunity youth in communities throughout the nation.
  • JFF is working with the Walmart to identify promising practices for work-based learning in the retail sector.
  • The Work-Based Courses Toolkit, developed through work with Owensboro Community and Technical College, provides guidance to community college administrators and faculty who are interested in bringing this innovative work-based learning model to their colleges.
  • Through its Pathways to Prosperity Network, JFF supports state and regional leaders in 8 states and over 50 regions in building grades 9-14 college and career pathways that integrate work-based learning and rigorous academics to ensure that more young people attain postsecondary credentials with value in the labor market and successfully launch careers. Across the Network, educators and employers partner to design pathways and create a continuum of work-based learning experiences that provide high school students with opportunities to explore the world of work, apply classroom learning in real-world contexts, and gain skills valued by employers.

Learn about the team and our partners who are leading this work.