The DOL YouthBuild program recently completed an intensive four-year random assignment evaluation, culminating in the final report, Laying a Foundation: Four-Year Results from the National YouthBuild Evaluation. The findings of this report suggest that the YouthBuild model “provides a good starting point, but will need to be improved if it is to make large sustained impacts on the lives of the young people it serves. The program’s focus on apprenticeship and skills training may be one strategy.” (Miller, Cynthia et al.  Laying a Foundation: Four-Year Results from the National YouthBuild Evaluation, MDRC, May, 2018, pg. ES-2.) YouthBuild programs have been embarking on a number of strategies to improve the participant impacts, including promoting successful placement strategies related to apprenticeship. This is occurring in tandem as targeted youth apprenticeship approaches are emerging and gaining greater traction at the state level. Partnerships continue to be a key element of successful apprenticeship pathways and YouthBuild grantees are becoming increasingly adept at building these critically important relationships.

Clusters of YouthBuild grantees in New York and Massachusetts have established state-wide YouthBuild Manufacturing Initiatives. According to Bonnie Landi, Executive Director of Ulster YouthBuild and Chair of the New York State YouthBuild Coalition, “It began in 2018 when a local manufacturing employer reached out to Ulster YouthBuild with an idea that would utilize YouthBuild participants as a pipeline to advanced manufacturing training, which could lead to employment in the industry and certifications/credentials.”

Landi further underscored, “The need came about because of an aging workforce. I was impressed with the training pathway the employer developed for the Initiative. That meeting led to my belief that this could benefit all YouthBuild programs as they strive to meet the DOL requirement for YouthBuild Construction Plus.”

Later that year, the New York State and Massachusetts State Coalitions developed a regional approach in response to a federal funding opportunity announcement, Scaling Apprenticeships Through Sector-Based Strategies.

Since the Fall of 2018, programs in both states have:

  • partnered with local manufacturing firms and manufacturing business associations to develop training pathways and curricula that can be shared and replicated across YouthBuild programs;
  • launched updated curricula to include college-level courses and multiple credentials; and
  • worked with manufacturers that are now prepared to assist YouthBuild grantees to enhance their soft skills training.

In San Diego, Able-Disabled Advocacy, Inc., a YouthBuild sponsoring organization, established the Pathways to Paychecks IT apprenticeship program in collaboration with San Diego Workforce Partnership/Workforce Investment Board through the support of an American Apprenticeship Grant. Though not specifically a YouthBuild program initiative, the Pathways to Paychecks program provides competitive apprenticeship and placement opportunities for qualified YouthBuild graduates.

Under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, YouthBuild programs are recognized as pre-apprenticeship programs. This designation strategically positions YouthBuild DOL grantees to be either a convener of regional partnerships or a talent source for apprenticeship sponsors as the pre-apprenticeship pathway prepares YouthBuild participants for apprenticeships. According to Tracy DiFilippis, Director of Sector Strategies at the Goodwill of Southern California YouthBuild program, “YouthBuild grantees can either connect with state or federal apprenticeship representatives or connect with subject matter experts who can help you navigate the apprenticeship world.”  Tracy encourages YouthBuild programs to consider both union and non-union apprenticeship opportunities and cites community colleges as valuable partners playing an increasing role in apprenticeship pathway development and implementation.

According to the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA), Youth apprenticeship is a “strategy for building a more inclusive economy by creating affordable, reliable, and equitable pathways from high school to good jobs and college degrees (PAYA, “About the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship,”, viewed November 2019).  The National Governors Association is working closely with PAYA to “[improve] public awareness and understanding of effective youth apprenticeship models and [help] policymakers and practitioners scale those that effectively serve participating students, employers and communities” (The National Governors Association, “States' Role in Advancing High-Quality Youth Apprenticeship,”, February 2019).

To learn more about how YouthBuild is developing and implementing new approaches to youth apprenticeship, check out the November 5th, 2019 webinar recording, Youth Apprenticeship and YouthBuild: Pathways to Apprenticeship.  This webinar explores how YouthBuild grantees can align their programs with the growing focus on apprenticeship and what various apprenticeship pathways in the United States can look like. Presenters share how YouthBuild grantees are establishing connections with apprenticeship sponsors in in-demand industries, and will highlight promising apprenticeship strategies within the advanced manufacturing industry. 

Related Resources

Registered Apprenticeship Toolkit
Youth Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship Resource Page

Youth Apprenticeship in America Today: Connecting High School Students to Apprenticeship

Resources to Assist Apprenticeship Programs

Construction Plus Framework for a Quality Pre-Apprenticeship Experience