Apprenticeship for High School Students

What is apprenticeship for high school students?

Apprenticeship programs for high school students combine academic and technical classroom instruction with work experience, which allows youth to explore a career and develop occupational skills while in high school. High school is a critical time for career and professional development. Apprenticeship programs can play a vital role in this development by offering students a pathway into high-demand careers and a college degree.

Youth apprenticeship programs provide the foundation for students to choose among multiple pathways after high school – to enroll in college, to enter an apprenticeship program, begin fulltime employment, or a combination. In addition to earning a high school diploma, many of the apprenticeship programs offer students dual enrollment in college and the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials.

Through partnerships among businesses, high schools, community and technical colleges, workforce systems and others, communities around the country are developing high school apprenticeship programs that are making a difference in the lives of youth and helping businesses thrive. From healthcare in Wisconsin to advanced manufacturing in South Carolina and childcare development and electricians in Florida, apprenticeship programs are providing new opportunities for high school students and a way for businesses to recruit new talent from the bottom up.

What makes high school apprenticeship programs successful?

All high-quality high school apprenticeship programs have several key common elements. They address the needs of students, businesses, and local school districts. High school apprenticeship programs are developed to match the skills and competencies needed by businesses. They are also aligned with the academic and technical standards in secondary and post-secondary education, as well as with industry-recognized credentials and certifications. Finally, they have strong linkages to adult apprenticeship programs in the community.

Building on these elements that are the foundations of success, every community has the flexibility to design their high school apprenticeship program to provide quality results for their students, businesses, and schools. Most programs fall into one of two types of models:

  • Pre-apprenticeship programs for high school students.
  • Apprenticeship programs that begin in high school.


This type of program prepares students to enter an apprenticeship program after high school.

  • Students take courses directly related to the apprenticeship field, in addition to their required high school coursework, which counts towards high school graduation.
  • They participate in on-the-job learning activities (beginning at age 16), which can count towards entry into an apprenticeship program.
  • Students can apply to an apprenticeship program leading up to or upon high school graduation.


In this type of program, students begin an apprenticeship during high school, meaning they are employed by a business as an apprentice while still a student.

  • Students become apprentices through an agreement signed by the parent/guardian, the student, and the employer.
  • The work portion of the program is flexible and is done when school is not in session or through a formal work-study program.
  • Students take courses at their high school and/or community and technical colleges, in addition to their required high school coursework, which counts towards high school graduation.
  • Students may complete the apprenticeship program during high school or continue after graduation, depending on the length of the program.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor:

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