Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Pre-Apprenticeships as a Pathway to Graduation and a Career

by Andrea D. Townsend, Director of Career Technical and Special Education - Greenville City Schools

I have said many times that Greenville is so lucky to have a Career Technical Education Center as a part of Greenville High School. It is true! Career Technical Education has many positive effects on students and the community. The recently released Career Tech report card for Greenville shows that students at Greenville CTEC graduated at higher rates (98.4%) and were engaged in college, career or the military within 6 months of graduating at high rates as well (94.4%)! These benefits are realized by students and their families, but also by our community and economy. It is such an honor to be a part of Greenville Career Technical Education.

Recently Career Technical Education has moved into the spotlight of the graduation debate in Ohio. Ohio’s graduation requirements have become something of a challenge to law-makers, educational leaders, schools, students and families. Graduation is so important to the future of high school students. The economical impact and opportunities that come with a high school diploma can make life changing impacts on students. Yet, it is important that a high school diploma is the result of rigorous learning that ensures that graduates are prepared for the challenges of college and career. Over the last 4 years law-makers in Ohio have struggled to find the correct balance of rigor and impact.

One option for graduation that seems to answer this argument is the Pre-Apprenticeship option. For many years, the apprenticeship model has been successful in preparing individuals in the skilled trades for highly successful careers in high demand fields. Pre-Apprenticeship is an opportunity to provide a similar learning structure to high school students so that they can combine traditional classroom learning with invaluable onthe-job training resulting in a student who has academic skills and work experience. Now Pre-Apprenticeships are also a part of Ohio’s New Graduation Requirements.

A Pre-Apprenticeship Program is a formalized training program that combines on-the-job training and related classroom instruction under the supervision of Career and Technical Educators and skilled professionals that result in the acquisition of skills and experience preparing students for an occupation and further training.

According to the US Department of Labor, “Pre-apprenticeships are valuable work-based learning opportunities that can provide high school students with academic and workplace skills that lead to postsecondary education opportunities and careers.” Approved Pre-apprenticeship programs have been registered and recognized by the Ohio State Apprenticeship Council for well over a decade. The PreApprenticeship program teaches basic technical and job-readiness skills for a designated apprentice occupation or sector to prepare students for a formal Registered Apprenticeship training program.

Historically, Apprenticeship has been a highly desirable form of training for workers because it is learning job skills while earning an income often with wage progression. Most of the time, apprentices earn a widely recognized and portable certificate of completion and proficiency. Currently, both the public and private sectors operate apprenticeship programs. Recent changes to the policies for Pre-Apprenticeships have allowed community colleges to take on the leadership role for Pre-Apprenticeships and Apprenticeships but employers, employer associations and labor-management committees can also sponsor and operate apprenticeship programs.

Apprenticeship sponsors typically pay the training costs, but recently funding and tax credits have been offered for employers as financial incentives.

There are two major components of a pre-apprenticeship. First is related instruction. Related instruction is commonly provided in the classroom, but other types of instruction, such as on-line learning and individualized instruction are also permitted. Federal rules recommend that apprentices complete at least 144 hours of related instruction per year, which many apprenticeship programs choose to require. In many apprenticeship programs, the related instruction can also lead to a college degree, thereby providing the individual with an opportunity to earn both academic and occupational credentials simultaneously, including college credit. Greenville is so lucky, because we have related instruction happening in our Career Technical Education Center each day.

The second component of a pre-apprenticeship is on-the-job training. Businesses can benefit from the work of the student while they offer them learning experiences that build skills outlined in the training plan. This is commonly achieved by offering a mentor to the student worker. The US Department of Labor lists the benefits of the Pre-Apprenticeship to businesses by helping to recruit and develop a highly skilled workforce, improve productivity and the bottom line, provides opportunities for tax credits and employee tuition benefits in some states, reduces turnover costs and increases employee retention, and creates industry-driven and flexible training solution to meet national and local needs.

Both of these components of a pre-apprenticeship are outlined in a plan that both the employer and the educational entity agree upon. The plan is important to ensure that the instructional design is aligned with prevailing industry standards for the targeted occupation and presents an evaluation methodology detailing the selection and use of skill assessment tools to be used before, during, and at the end of training. This plan is then approved by Ohio Apprenticeship Council.

Pre-apprenticeship experiences empower young people to start on their career while finishing up high school. They reap the benefits of increased graduation rates, increased post program placement and higher earning potential over their career. “Individuals enjoy an 8% to 22% ROI (Return on Investment) in their apprenticeship programs based on the time and the occupational path,” according to the Ohio Apprenticeship Council. Employers get to recruit and retain employees with technical skills and interest in the career field. The model is time tested and can be replicated. Research indicates that businesses enjoy profitable outcomes as well. According to The Ohio Apprenticeship Council, “For every $1 an industry invests in an apprentice, the company receives over $4 back in production after the first year.”

Pre-apprenticeship as a pathway to graduation is a win-win for our students, local businesses and our community. If you would like to learn more about pre-apprenticeship experiences to build your business or support student success or both, please reach out to Andrea Townsend at Greenville City Schools at or research more at

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