Pre-apprenticeship programs are designed to prepare individuals to succeed in rigorous apprenticeships. These programs work to ensure that individuals new to an industry or needing to gain critical academic skills receive the combination of industry-based training and classroom instruction needed to move along a pathway into an apprenticeship program. A quality pre-apprenticeship contains five core components as defined in the U.S. Department of Labor framework:
- a partnership with a registered apprenticeship sponsor
- an approved training and curriculum
- hands-on training
- industry-recognized credentials
- supportive services
It is critical that pre-apprenticeships link directly to existing apprenticeship programs to ensure students are prepared for entry into an existing apprenticeship opportunity.
Pre-apprenticeships are designed to prepare workers for the minimum requirements for entry into an established apprenticeship program. Pre-apprenticeships can also be designed for specific populations including high school students, opportunity youth (who are out of school and out of work), women, and people of color. By reaching into high schools, pre-apprenticeship programs help to diversify the talent pipeline of skilled workers and expand opportunities for traditionally underserved communities. Pre-apprenticeships give women, people of color, and other underrepresented populations the skills, confidence, and mentors they need to be successful in an existing apprenticeship program. For participants with barriers to employment, these programs also provide work-readiness skills and support services such as transportation assistance and child care referrals that allows participants to persist in the program and progress into a registered apprenticeship.
For employers, pre-apprenticeships provide screened, well-prepared workers who are ready to participate in more rigorous apprenticeship programs. This training approach addresses the considerable challenges employers face in filling their frontline positions and developing a talent pipeline to fill middle-skilled jobs.
As apprenticeship programs have grown outside of traditional industries, pre-apprenticeships are being developed to provide academic knowledge and skills training tailored to specific occupations for a variety of industries that need skilled workers in entry-level jobs: health care, information technology, manufacturing, hospitality, and retail.