This 10-page resource provides an overview of the steps required to develop a pre-apprenticeship that leads to an apprenticeship. Pre-apprenticeship provides supports tailored to the needs of specific groups to prepare them to enter and succeed in an apprenticeship program. This Partnership primer features effective strategies on partnering with employers, community and technical colleges, unions, community-based organizations, intermediaries, and state and local governments.

Pre-apprenticeships are designed to give women, people of color, and other underrepresented populations the skills, confidence, and connections they need to be successful. They provide academic knowledge and skills training tailored to specific jobs and industries for participants who have barriers to employment. These programs also provide work-readiness skills and a range of supports—from transportation and driver’s license recovery assistance to referrals for childcare—that participants need to persist in the program and progress into an apprenticeship.

For employers, pre-apprenticeships provide screened, trained employees who are ready to work, saving time and money in recruiting, training, and reducing turnover rates. This approach to job training addresses the considerable challenges employers face in filling their apprenticeship positions and developing a talent pipeline to fill middle-skill jobs.

Pre-apprenticeship programs prepare individuals to enter and succeed in apprenticeships. While pre-apprenticeship programs are not federally vetted, the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship has defined quality pre-apprenticeship programs as those that incorporate the following elements:

  • Connection to existing apprenticeship programs
  • Approved training and curriculum
  • Opportunity to earn an industry-recognized credential
  • Hands-on learning with a career focus
  • Access to support services and career counseling

Pre-Apprenticeship 101 provides an overview of the steps required to develop a pre-apprenticeship program that leads to an apprenticeship. This primer is divided into three sections: Partnerships, Program Development, and Funding.

Employers play several central roles in pre-apprenticeships. They are the primary partner for program development since the program content must match employers’ needs; employers are also essential for providing access for pre-apprentices to the workplace during training and in creating a supportive environment once they are hired. Sponsors’ critical role is hiring pre-apprentices as apprentices, creating a smooth pathway as they learn.

Major Findings & Recommendations

Community-based organizations can provide the following services and expertise, among others:

  • Job placement organizations can act as recruitment sites for pre-apprenticeship programs and often have strong ties to local employers.
  • Goodwill, United Way, and other organizations that support low-income workers help apprentices purchase work clothes, necessary tools and books, pay for class fees or transportation costs, and provide support services ranging from childcare to addiction recovery services. These organizations can also help apprentices navigate social services and apply for government benefits. Many are set up to offer educational programs and can partner with pre-apprenticeships to deliver classes.
  • Local banks teach apprentices how to create a budget and manage their money.
  • Intermediaries can aggregate supply-side and demand-side information and share that information with employers.

Colleges can benefit significantly from a partnership with a pre-apprenticeship program, but they may not immediately recognize the potential benefits, which include:

  • Recognition for diversity support. Many colleges do not have diverse populations in some of their traditionally male-dominated training, and participating in pre-apprenticeship can help the college advance its diversity commitments.
  • Supporting enrollment. Pre-apprentices add to the college’s full-time equivalency count, and some may choose to continue their education before seeking employment.
  • Maximizing facility use. Often, facilities at the college are not used full time; using them for pre-apprenticeship training could be cost-effective.
  • Networking. Through the relationships developed in implementing pre-apprenticeship activities, the college can build better connections with employers and potential future students.
  • Community impact. Involvement in a pre-apprenticeship allows the college to serve more levels of the community by increasing access to better-paying jobs.
  • Funding. Grants to support pre-apprenticeship can also provide support for the college.