The number of opportunity youth—young people ages 16 to 24 who are neither working nor in school—more than doubled to over 10 million during the pandemic-driven economic downturn of 2020. And while the employment rate for this population did increase amid the stirrings of an economic recovery in 2021, it was still lower than it had been prior to the pandemic in 2019. Moreover, many of those workers are in low-paying jobs with little opportunity for advancement.
Apprenticeship can provide the training, education, and career preparation opportunities opportunity youth need. It can be an especially effective model for this population because it combines paid work and learning (often for college credit), so participants don’t have to choose between earning money and pursuing an education. It also includes mentoring, which can be important for young people who need to develop essential employability skills—such as the ability to communicate effectively or work as a member of a team—that are best cultivated through trusted relationships.
Through an Apprenticeship Expansion and Modernization Fund (AEMF) contract with the U.S. Department of Labor, JFF has been working with organizations across the country to expand access to Registered Apprenticeships to opportunity youth. These programs have engaged in several innovative practices to connect opportunity youth with these career pathways.
This online resource explores promising approaches and highlights examples of activities and strategies in the following five categories:
- Employer Engagement
- Recruiting and Engaging Youth
- Braided and Adaptive Funding
- Building Partnerships, Ecosystems, and Intermediaries
- Inclusive Program Design