by Dana Cook
In September of 2016, Colorado governor John Hickenlooper introduced a plan that would provide potential apprenticeships for up to 20,000 Colorado high school juniors and seniors over the next ten years. These students would receive pay and high school credit for working three days a week.
Hickenlooper said, “Colorado is known as a national leader for innovative strategies to increase student achievement and improve opportunities for students once they finish high school. This is an example of business coming together with schools that will help build better pathways to good careers and give more students access to the middle class.”
This month, Colorado finally launched the program. With $9.5 million to start up and plan the apprenticeship program, called CareerWise Colorado, participating high schools began sending students to work with the start of this school year.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stated, “Apprenticeships are a tried and true training strategy that offer a path to the middle class and expand opportunities for working people. The learn-while-you-earn model is instrumental to the competitiveness of our business, the strength of our economy and the future of our workforce.”
As specialized jobs and careers are harder to find in growing industries, as noted by the Denver Post, the opportunity for students to learn specialized skills at a younger age is meant to help lower turnover rates and unemployment in Colorado’s economy. With nearly $300 million lost to the GDP each year, business owners hope that opening and filling jobs with students in specialized areas will help decrease the cost of unemployment in companies. Helping not just companies, the program would also economically benefit students who partake in the program. While working, students will earn typical pay, minimum wage or higher depending on performance and employer, as well as high school credit or secondary credentials toward a two-year degree. An extra year of apprenticeship can even help prepare students to go directly into full time jobs or to continue secondary education at community or four-year colleges.
This year, the program kicks off with 250 participants working in four pathways including advanced manufacturing, business operations, financial services, and information technology. The program hopes to expand to multiple other pathways and provide this opportunity to up to 20,000 students.
(Sources: Denver Post, Colorado.gov)