What are Pre-Apprenticeships and Why Do They Matter

The main goal of a Pre-Apprenticeship program is to help prepare participants for a Registered Apprenticeship program.

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Sovann Boyd

Sovann Boyd

Digital Marketing Specialist

What are Pre-Apprenticeship programs?

Pre-Apprenticeship programs are designed to give participants the requisite knowledge and experience required to set them up for success once they enter a subsequent Registered Apprenticeship program. These types of programs can be run by a multitude of organizations, including community centers, high schools, labor organizations, workforce agencies, and community colleges. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Pre-Apprenticeship framework, all programs must focus on supporting their participants in the following areas: 

  • Strong recruitment efforts for under-represented populations
  • Education and pre-vocational services that prepare participants to meet the minimum qualifications for entry into a Registered Apprenticeship program
  • Activities introducing participants to Apprenticeships and assisting them to apply for Registered Apprenticeship programs 
  • Access to support services that help participants remain in the program (such as child care, transportation, counseling, and ongoing career services). 
  • Collaboration with program sponsors to promote Apprenticeship to other employers as a quality approach to attain and retain a skilled workforce. 
  • Hands-on experience that simulates the work performed in the Apprenticeship, while observing proper supervision and safety protocols. 

A Pre-Apprenticeship program, by definition, has a documented partnership with at least one Registered Apprenticeship program, as they act as a jumping-off point for under-represented job seekers who may not be aware of the value these opportunities provide. Pre-Apprenticeships help individuals meet the entry requirements for Apprenticeship programs and ensure they are prepared to be successful in their Apprenticeship. 


The Difference Between Pre-Apprenticeships and Apprenticeships

The main goal of a Pre-Apprenticeship program is to help prepare participants for a Registered Apprenticeship program. What sets the two kinds of programs apart is that Pre-Apprenticeships act as a stepping stone for any Apprenticeship a participant may be interested in. 

Since Pre-Apprenticeships act like a prerequisite to many Apprenticeship programs, the curriculum within them is slightly less rigorous as the program focuses more on helping to prepare an apprentice for life in a registered Apprenticeship rather than the more hard skills they will be taught once they move into their full-fledged program. 

Though not every Apprenticeship program has a connected Pre-Apprenticeship program, many Apprenticeships are starting to implement these programs into their curriculum in an attempt to provide apprentices an easier transition into their Apprenticeship. 


Why Are They Beneficial?

Pre-Apprenticeship programs can provide a variety of great benefits for both the participant as well as the employer while also helping to provide a pathway to promising careers during a time when industries are in dire need of well-trained employees. Pre-Apprenticeship programs can facilitate individual success in Apprenticeship programs by providing support services, career training, access to mentors, and exposure to careers across multiple industries.

Pre-Apprenticeship programs work to prepare apprentices for a Registered Apprenticeship program. Pre-Apprenticeship programs can vary from paid to not paid and usually run a little shorter than a Registered Apprenticeship program.

Pre-Apprenticeship programs allow participants to:

  • Explore Career Options – Still unsure of what you want in your career path? A Pre-Apprenticeship program is a great way to get your feet wet in a particular trade or industry. 
  • Receive Credit Towards a Registered Apprenticeship – After you complete your Pre-Apprenticeship program, you may receive a credit that counts toward a connected Registered Apprenticeship program. This can shorten the overall time span of your Apprenticeship and help you to earn your credential faster.
  • Support Services – Pre-Apprenticeships are often created and geared toward underrepresented groups so many provide more supportive services to help them stay in the program. For example, programs may provide free childcare, transportation, and ongoing career counseling.
  • Gain Experience Early – Still too young to apply for an Apprenticeship program? If so, consider applying for a Pre-Apprenticeship that focuses on youth. These programs can serve as a launchpad for Apprenticeship and other career-related opportunities.


Pre-Apprenticeships Making a Difference Now

An example of a thriving Pre-Apprenticeship program is Pittsburgh-based gaming company Simcoach’s game development Apprenticeship which was recently approved by the Pennsylvania Apprenticeship Office of Apprenticeship as a first-of-its-kind Apprenticeship in the state, 

Program participants will learn how to build purpose-driven games in sectors such as Healthcare, Education, Safety, and Personal Wellness. Successful completion of the Apprenticeship program will include the apprentices earning the Unity Certified Associate credential.

"Registered Pre-Apprenticeship programs like Simcoach's allow young learners to gain meaningful experiences while preparing to enter the workforce, potentially through a registered Apprenticeship, and fuel a diverse talent pipeline in innovative industries like video game development. It's a win-win for the future of Pennsylvania's workforce and its businesses."

Tara Loew, Director of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry's Apprenticeship and Training Office

Another succeeding program includes the Polk Correctional Institutions iBuild Pre-Apprenticeship program who works to prepare inmates for a smoother transition back into the workforce as well as public life. Apprentices will also receive on-the-job training from industry professionals as part of a mentorship process that will help their participants gain valuable toolkits for their future careers.

The Chicago Women in Trade is another Pre-Apprenticeship program that has done great things for its participants as the program focuses on promoting women in the trades and recently received a $9.6 million grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. Chicago Women in Trades offers assistance with application fees and tools and will also offer a $10/hour stipend to help with transportation costs.




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