Chapter 7. The urban technology project in Philadelphia, United States

This chapter presents the case study of the Urban Technology Project, an apprenticeship programme in Philadelphia that aims to promote IT skills among disadvantaged youth through work-based training in the public school system. The programme is unique in America, where apprenticeships still tend to focus on the acquisition of technical and trades-related skills. The establishment, structure and subsequent evolution of the Urban Technology project are further explored.

  

Key findings

  • The Urban Technology Project aims to build technology skills among urban youth through work-based training in the Philadelphia public school system, alongside off-the-job training with local training providers, including a local college. The apprenticeship programme reflects the make-up of inner city public schools and features more female apprentices and those from a minority background than is the norm among American apprentices.

  • The programme’s success is partially a result of strong links between the programme’s operators and employers from the local Philadelphia information technology industry. Many of the programme’s graduates have since joined the local information technology workforce or have pursued technical positions in other enterprises.

  • The programme’s structure has undergone an iterative process with respect to structure and the optimal combination of off-the-job training and on-the-job training. The programme has also evolved in terms of training provision and the certification of competences.

Introduction

Historically, apprenticeships in the United States have been underfunded and largely disconnected from the country’s education programmes and workforce systems. Apprentices make up a much smaller percentage of the nation’s workforce compared with European counterparts. The general population’s focus on higher education (“college for all”), coupled with the misperception that apprenticeships are only applicable to manufacturing and construction trade jobs sponsored by labour/management agreements, has hindered the growth of the programme. However, there has been a renewed focus on building apprenticeships in recent years. The government, educators and businesses are reconsidering the potential for apprenticeships to transform how the country prepares its workforce, specifically youth, for the future demands of the economy. United States policy makers are reaching out to OECD countries to both learn from their successful apprenticeship models and collaborate around building a truly global apprenticeship movement.

The government is also looking toward successful innovative American apprenticeships to help serve as a guide for new programmes. The Urban Technology Project (UTP), a youth apprenticeship programme located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an exciting example of what the next generation of government-sponsored registered apprenticeships could look like. Participants are from communities typically underrepresented in American apprenticeships, including younger adults, minorities, women, and lower income populations. The UTP prepares disconnected youth (who are neither working nor in school) to work in the high growth industry of Information Technology, offering a pipeline of experiences that include a strong pre-apprenticeship programme, a certified registered apprenticeship, and carefully structured connections to post-apprenticeship employment through strong partnerships with regional employers, including the thriving local business community. UTP is integrated into the local public school district through both education and workplace experiences, making it a true public/private partnership. As the United States Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez proclaimed, “The Urban Technology Project is exactly the type of model for how we train the workforce of tomorrow”, (Education Week, 2014).

This case study will examine the economic and policy context within which current American apprenticeship initiatives have evolved. A description of the UTP will be provided, and the impacts, strengths, and weaknesses of the programme will be considered. Finally, the potential transferability of the programme to other OECD countries will be examined.

Policy context

The United States economy is in the process of recovering from the Great Recession of 2007-2009, and unemployment has been falling and wages have been rising. The unemployment rate for the country continues to decrease from the 2014 rate of 5.6% (US Department of Labour, 2016a). However, youth unemployment is still a concern for the country. In 2014, the unemployment rate for Americans aged 16-24 was 13.4%. In contrast, the youth unemployment rate was 7.8% in Germany, and 8.6% in Switzerland (OECD, 2016). The situation is compounded for lower-income and minority youth, many of whom live in cities. Philadelphia in particular has one of the highest poverty rates among major U.S. cities, with 26.9% of its residents living under the federal poverty level (US Census, 2012), coupled with alarming unemployment: the unemployment rate is 30.6% for youth aged 16-24 who live in the region and are not enrolled in schools (Philadelphia Works, 2016). Many of these youth are disconnected from employment, education or training, or what the OECD terms “NEET”. The moniker coined by the White House Council for Community Solutions is “Opportunity Youth”, and this population has been the recent focus of federal education and training initiatives.

There is growing awareness in the country that jobs are becoming more technical, requiring specific skills that the current younger workforce does not have. The “skills gap” creates a frustrating scenario in this recovering economy whereby job positions go unfilled while individuals remain unemployed. In 2015 there were 5 million job openings in the country, the largest amount since 2001. President Obama’s TechHire Initiative presents an effort to close the skills gap in the emerging field of technology. According to the programme’s website, Information Technology jobs are the largest category for open jobs and account for approximately 12% of the country’s 5 million current job openings (White House, 2016). TechHire aims to get more Americans trained for well-paying technology jobs, with the simultaneous goal of increasing diversity in the workforce.

Philadelphia is one of twenty localities to host a TechHire programme. The city is a good fit for the programme because the local market has shifted from manufacturing and construction jobs to an increasing prevalence of technology, education and health jobs. Over the last 10-15 years, the technology market has been growing rapidly. While the field reverberates with a palpable and youthful energy, there is limited diversity in the technology workforce. While 45% of the city’s population is African American, 80% of the region’s IT workers are white, and 70% are male. According to Meg Shope Koppel, chief research officer at Philadelphia Works, TechHire aims to connect employers, educators, and businesses with the goal of developing talent pipelines for a diverse workforce (source: interview with Meg Shope Koppel, Philadelphia Works).

Policy context

The National Apprenticeship Act of 1938 established the registered apprenticeship (RA) programme in the United States. The programme is jointly administered by the Department of Labor (DOL)’s Office of Apprenticeship (OA) and State Apprenticeship Agencies (SAA) in 25 states. Participants who complete an RA programme are awarded a nationally recognised credential. It is difficult to determine the exact number of apprenticeships in the country because there are a number of non-registered programmes, but it is clear that the size of the American apprenticeship system is small relative to the apprenticeship programmes in other OECD countries. At the end of 2015, 451 000 apprentices in the U.S. were working toward certification; in the same year, approximately 52 500 participants graduated from one of 20 910 active programmes (US Department of Labour, 2016b). In 2014, apprentices made up only 0.2% of the United States’ labor force (Lerman, 2014). When considering the limited growth of apprenticeship programmes in the US, it is important to examine the convergence of several factors, including a lack of business buy-in, constrained funding, and limited public support for apprenticeships.

Businesses have been reticent to build apprenticeship programmes within their companies. Robert Lerman, a leading scholar on apprenticeships in the U.S. and founder of The American Institute for Innovative Apprenticeships, identifies several reasons for this. Primarily, there has been a very limited amount of marketing to businesses, coupled with a lack of technical assistance for companies interested in implementing an apprenticeship programme. Additionally, there is a dearth of research necessary to demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) that apprenticeship programmes can offer a business. Furthermore, unlike other OECD countries, American businesses receive no financial support from the government to set up or run apprenticeship programmes. One result is that the number of applicants interested in becoming apprentices far exceeds the number of apprenticeship openings offered by businesses.

The United States’ Office of Apprenticeships has been historically underfunded. Prior to 2015, the government spent less than USD 30 million a year on all aspects of the programme. To place this in perspective, Britain has been spending the equivalent of USD 8.5 billion a year on apprenticeship programmes (Lerman, 2014). Until 2014, federal funds for apprenticeship programmes in the United States had been in decline and comprised a very small fraction of the Department of Labor’s workforce development budget.

Business disengagement and the historically limited funding for apprenticeships may both stem from a larger issue: public disinterest. Until recently in the United States, there has been a general lack of awareness of and support for the value of apprenticeships. The programme is often perceived by the public through the lens of its historical limitations – designed for construction trades and manufacturing industries, with minimal diversity. Unlike the emerging workforce of today, apprentices are overwhelmingly male and white, with an average age of 30. Only 6% are women, and only 10% are African American (US Department of Labour, 2014).

Philadelphia and the larger state of Pennsylvania have a strong apprenticeship presence relative to other cities and states. Pennsylvania is one of the 25 states that have a State Apprenticeship Agency that registers and oversees programmes in the state. However, Philadelphia’s apprenticeship history has for the most part been limited to the construction and manufacturing trades and the unions that represent them. In general, the high growth industries in the city, such as health and information technology, have been disconnected from apprenticeship programmes.

Painting a portrait of apprenticeships in the United States would be incomplete without an examination of the country’s education system, both K-12 (primary and secondary) as well as higher education (post-secondary and tertiary) programmes. Educators, policy makers, and the general public have been focused on the concept of “college for all”, often at the expense of other career or life paths for the country’s youth. This focus impacts the apprenticeship movement in two major ways. Firstly, the K-12 curriculum is focused on college preparation at the expense of meaningful, comprehensive and coherent school-to-career activities. Unlike other OECD countries, US apprenticeships are for the most part disconnected from the K-12 education experience. A stigma against vocational-technical education is rooted in a history of segregated and unequal education tracks for low-income and minority students, which offered little opportunity to switch between academic and technical tracks. Secondly, federal funding for community colleges, the country’s two year publicly funded higher education institutions, reduces the funding available for apprenticeship programmes. Until recently, government funding per apprentice was USD 100-400 per year, compared with USD 11 400 per student at a two year public college (Lerman, 2014).

Yet, the landscape for education and job preparation in the United States is on the cusp of a transformation. Higher education has become extremely cost-prohibitive, while at the same time many disadvantaged youth are unprepared for the rigours of college. Drop-out rates are high for those who do start out in college. Only about 40% of Americans have obtained either an associate’s or bachelor’s degree by their mid-twenties; for African Americans that percentage is 30% and for Latinos it is 20%. (Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2014). A growing “Pathways Movement”, with roots in Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Pathways to Prosperity Report, recognises that high school graduates are not equipped with the skills that the current workforce demands of them. Education advocates are making a strong case for revitalising and expanding the role of career and technical education in K-12 schools.

A renewed energy for apprenticeships coincides with this call for change in the country’s education system and how we prepare youth for the workforce. Other factors that contribute to this focus on apprenticeships include the recognition that filling job vacancies will be problematic due to a “skills gap”, despite growth in available jobs due to a growing economy and a surge in retirement. In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Obama announced his desire to double the number of registered apprentices within five years (White House, 2014).

In response, the budget for the Office of Apprenticeships increased by approximately 10% in 2014 and 2015. More notably, the Department of Labor was able to supplement this budget with additional money, including H-1 B discretionary funds. This discretionary fund is financed by a user fee paid by employers to hire foreign workers into the United States under the H-1 B non-immigrant visa programme for speciality occupations. In 2015, USD 175 million of the additional funds were dispersed via competitive grant to innovative apprenticeship programmes across the country, a move described as “the most significant apprenticeship investment in our nation’s history” (DOL, 2015). The grant aimed to “support the expansion of quality and innovative American Apprenticeship programs into high-growth occupation(s) and industry(s), particularly those for which employers are using H-1 B visas to hire foreign workers, and the related activities necessary to support such programs”. The funding opportunity notice explains that “the department is taking a critical first step in charting a new path forward for innovation in apprenticeship as a post-secondary education and training pathway (DOL, 2015).” The intent of the grant programme is to expand apprenticeships in high growth industries such as IT, while targeting underrepresented populations (female, youth, and minorities) to participate in these apprenticeships. In 2016, the Office of Apprenticeship received a supplemental appropriation of USD 90 million, approximately three times the budget of the previous year.

A variety of exciting initiatives at the US Office of Apprenticeships follows this recent increase in funds. Secretary Perez and his team have been traveling to Europe to study the success of apprenticeship programmes in other OECD countries. Using the United Kingdom’s Trailblazers programme as a model, the new Apprenticeship USA LEADER (Leaders of Excellence in Apprenticeship Development, Education, and Research) programme calls on employers to promote and support the expansion of apprenticeship programmes among their business peers. Most recently, the United States has signed Joint Declarations of Intent with Germany and Switzerland to facilitate co-operation around career and technical education, including apprenticeships. In February 2016, the U.S.-EU Working Group on Employment and Labor-related issues met to discuss the advancement of apprenticeship strategies in Europe and the United States.

As the United States looks abroad for support in promoting apprenticeships, the country is also forging ahead on apprentice collaboration across different domestic systems. The Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC), administered jointly by the Department of Labor and the Department of Education, is a network of colleges and registered apprenticeship programmes working together to promote college to career opportunities. RACC aims to support apprenticeship graduates to earn an Associate’s or Bachelor’s college degree. Apprenticeships are also being advanced as workforce strategy. The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), signed into law in 2015, replaces the country’s Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and mandates a shift in focus and funding from short-term training to long-term training aligned with high growth and emerging industries. It advances apprenticeships as a workforce strategy and calls for renewed focus on youth and pre-apprenticeship programmes. Further, the law opens federal workforce funding streams for use in the training component of apprenticeship programmes.

The Urban Technology Project

The Urban Technology Project (UTP) in Philadelphia is an Information Technology (IT) career pathway that is centred around a registered apprenticeship programme within the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), and is at the forefront of the recent apprenticeship initiatives in the United States. The programme was approved as a registered apprenticeship programme in 2005, making it likely the longest running information technology apprenticeship programme in the country today. In 2014, the UTP was used as the backdrop for the Department of Labor’s USD 175 million American Apprenticeship Initiative grant announcement and also identified as an Apprenticeship USA LEADER (Leaders of Excellence in Apprenticeship Development, Education, and Research). The UTP is an integral component of the Philadelphia regional collaborative that was awarded one of twenty competitive American Apprenticeship grants in 2015, and is also an essential member of Philadelphia’s local TechHire initiative.

The UTP supports apprentices as they participate in on-the-job training while receiving related technical instruction, but the UTP is larger than a discrete apprenticeship programme. As mentioned above, the UTP is a pathway; it includes a pre-apprenticeship programme for recent high school graduates to prepare them for becoming apprentices within the programme, and continues to provide support to apprentices as they graduate from the programme and transition into employment and higher education opportunities. Middle and high school students are also involved in UTP activities and receive exposure to technology through extracurricular interactions with the apprentices.

The typical work placement for an apprentice in the programme is at a school where he or she works alongside a mentor to provide support for the building’s technology infrastructure. Apprentices work collaboratively with and mentor other UTP participants, including high school students involved in technology clubs and pre-apprentices working on-site. As they participate in on-the-job training, apprentices and pre-apprentices receive related technical instruction and work on obtaining industry certifications. Upon completion of the apprenticeship experience and obtainment of a journeyperson certificate, participants receive assistance to transition into relevant employment. Some graduates of the programme continue to work for the School District of Philadelphia as employees in various departments, but the majority move into private employment. The UTP builds strong relationships with local technology companies and other employers who have the opportunity to see apprentices in action and are excited about hiring participants who have proven themselves capable.

This public/private model is relatively unique for apprenticeship programmes in the United States. An additional innovation is the ease of transition from the public sector setting of the apprenticeship (public school) to employment in the private sector. Unlike traditional apprenticeship programmes, the intent of the UTP is not necessarily for the apprentice to graduate into employment at the apprenticeship site. Rather, the main focus is to support work and learning experiences that engage participants and prepare them to transition into new work opportunities with the UTP’s employer partners while embracing a career of life-long learning.

The UTP is a public/private partnership between the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) and the private non-profit organisation “Communities in Schools Philadelphia” (CISP). A host of other partners are also involved with various components of the programme, including funding, training, support services and employment.

The four categories of partnerships are:

  1. Public Entities: Philadelphia Works, which provides funding for On the Job Training (OJT) for the Registered IT Apprenticeship Programme; PA Career Link, which provides resources for employment readiness; and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) which provides funding for AmeriCorps pre-apprenticeship programmes.

  2. Educational Entities: School District of Philadelphia, which provides hands-on training and didactic support; Community College of Philadelphia, which provides IT-specific classroom instruction.

  3. National Corporate Entities: They provide funding, in-kind training resources and staff to support OJT and prepare UTP members for industry-standard certification. These entities include Apple Inc., Dell, SMART Technologies and OKI Data Americas.

  4. Employers: Provide feedback to help improve member workplace performance, as well as hire IT apprentices, include: the School District of Philadelphia, the City of Philadelphia Office of Innovation and Technology, Apple Inc., Jarvus Innovations Inc., Springboard Media, The Neat Company, Robert Half Technologies, String Theory Schools, Universal Companies, Temple University, Drexel University, The University of Pennsylvania Medicine, The Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and Bucks County Community College.

Governance – Lead Organisations

Over the past 15 years, the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) has faced significant academic and financial challenges. A report by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce characterises the city’s underperforming schools and high dropout rates as a leading cause of gaps in the quality of the workforce (Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, 2015). The district is considering alternative ways to address these issues. Currently SDP is enhancing Career and Technical Education (CTE) programming, and has opened several new high schools that are designed to increase retention and graduation rates through a focus on hands-on learning and apprenticeships. SDP’s 2015 Action Plan 3.0 includes a mandate about apprenticeships:

“In partnership with the business community, we will increase the number of students earning industry credentials – reflecting Philadelphia’s high-priority, growing occupations – while developing guidelines on effective teaching methods to ensure the highest quality of programming options. We will continue to develop ‘career pathways’ with employers, which can include pre‐apprenticeships and registered apprenticeships.” (School District of Philadelphia, 2015)

The School District of Philadelphia’s longest running apprenticeship programme is the UTP. The director of UTP, Edison Freire, is also the founder of the programme. He is a school district employee, and a director in the district’s Educational Technology Office.

Communities in Schools is a national private non-profit organisation that focuses on dropout prevention. Communities in Schools Philadelphia (CISP) is one of 200 local affiliates and aims to connect youth and their families to community resources. Beth St. Clair, the programme manager of the UTP, holds one of the several management positions at CISP. She oversees both the apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programmes of the UTP in conjunction with a programme supervisor for the pre-apprenticeship scheme. The apprentices involved in the UTP are directly employed by the CISP, which then liaises with the SDP to place programme participants at school district sites, such as schools or administrative offices.

Philadelphia Works is a public sector entity that receives both public and private funding. The organisation supports efforts to develop a skilled workforce in the city. Philadelphia Works is the lead agency of the American Apprenticeship Initiative Grant, which aims to grow the UTP. Presently, Philadelphia Works provides training funds to the UTP to allow apprentices to participate in related instruction and IT certification preparation. Philadelphia Works also sponsors Philadelphia’s local TechHire initiative, which enables the UTP to engage with a wide range of local tech employers.

Objectives: Engaging, supporting and preparing disconnected youth

The UTP serves urban youth who enter the programme with a variety of educational experiences, including high school graduates from the city’s public and charter schools and students who have attained (or are in the process of attaining) their high school diploma (GED1). As a group, UTP participants face a variety of challenges. The population of urban schools is 72% African American or Latino, and 87% are from low income backgrounds. The graduation rate of these schools is 1 in 4 students. The majority of students at the schools test below basic levels in reading, math and science. Approximately 53% of the participants of the UTP programme are black, while 18.9% are Hispanic and 19.8% are female. This is in stark contrast to the broader face of registered apprenticeships in America, where only 10% of apprentices are African American and just 6% are female.

The UTP aims to engage these disconnected students and support them as they prepare for career and higher education opportunities.

The development of the UTP was an organic process, built around experiences that demonstrate the engaging qualities of technology and service. In 1997, UTP founder Edison Freire was teaching in a struggling Philadelphia high school and was looking for ways to motivate his Latino immigrant students. Based on their interests, he helped them to organise a technology club that they named LatinoTech. He also helped the students master English while learning technical skills, and encouraged them to view these skills as a resource for their community. The youth became problem-solvers, responsible for identifying and tackling community needs. This culture of service permeates all of UTP’s programmes today; the programme aims to capture the interest of the youth, connect them to their communities, and encourage a supportive network among all participants.

As the original Latino technology club evolved over time to include all urban youth, it was renamed the Urban Technology Project. Freire recognised that the members of the club were motivated to join the technology workforce after graduating high school but required further support and guidance. A variety of barriers were preventing these youth from entering a college programme or an IT career directly after high school. Freire realised that the recent graduates could benefit from work experience in a more supportive environment than a traditional IT company, one that would bolster the IT skills of participants while building soft workplace skills. Thus, the UTP evolved to gradually include pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship components with incentives and resources to allow participants to take advanced courses while working. The Programme also built connections with the local community college and the city’s IT employers to help support the apprentices as they completed their apprenticeships.

Today’s UTP participants engage in both instructional and hands-on activities in order to learn IT skills and prepare for employment in the field. In addition to building these “hard skills”, the youth also develop “soft skills” that are equally essential for job placement. As the youth are placed at a worksite, they gain an understanding of the norms of the workplace and what it’s like to be in a position of responsibility. They experience first-hand the importance of communication and dependability. The UTP manager Beth St. Clair highlights how UTP staff support participants in constant reflection, with opportunities to consider personal progress and the relevance of the activities in which they are involved. The participants also develop other competences, including project management, leadership development, customer service, presentation skills, resume and interview skills, interpersonal skills, collaboration and teamwork.

The use of the school environment as the primary UTP worksite fosters the culture of service that has permeated the programme since its inception. The school district lacks resources, including funding and staff, to support the technology needs of Philadelphia schools. For example, at one high school that currently hosts a UTP apprentice, a Teacher Technology Leader (TTL) has only been allocated one school period per day to support the school’s technology. The TTL designates some of his limited time to mentoring and providing on-the-job training to the apprentice to improve their professional growth. In return, the apprentice helps to support the technology needs of the school and provide essential day-to-day technology support for teachers and students. The participants of the UTP recognise that their work improves their community, particularly their own secondary schools. The apprentices also serve as role models for the students currently in the school.

Activities

The UTP is a pipeline of experiences that includes:

  • exposure to technology in middle school and high school (TechServ clubs)

  • a pre-apprenticeship programme for high school graduates

  • a certified registered apprenticeship experience

  • connections to post-apprenticeship employment

The programme has multiple entry and exit points. While there are distinct phases throughout the programme, there is a high degree of integration and collaboration throughout the pipeline.

Pre-Apprenticeship: Digital Service Fellows (DSF)

The UTP is an example of what the US Office of Apprenticeships describes as a “pre‐apprenticeship to registered apprenticeship” model. The Department of Labor identifies pre-apprenticeship programmes as a starting point for developing a successful career path for under-represented job seekers. This includes disadvantaged individuals who may not be aware of how to access jobs that offer opportunities for advancement. Many pre-apprenticeship programmes focus on youth, as does the UTP. Activities are designed to help participants meet entry requirements for a partner apprenticeship programme. Other focuses for pre-apprenticeship programmes include developing peer networks, developing soft skills and offered access to support services.

In 2002, the UTP developed the Digital Service Fellows (DSF), which has evolved into today’s pre-apprenticeship programme for recent high school graduates. The pre‐apprentices are also members of Americorps, a federally-funded service programme under the umbrella of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). This link between an Americorps programme and pre-apprenticeship initiative is unique among programmes in the US. CNCS engages more than 5 million citizens in a variety of national service programmes, with the aim of improving communities. CISP applied for and received a competitive grant from the programme, which is used to manage the DSF Americorps members. For their year of service, Americorps members, including those in the DSF programme, receive a living stipend from the federal government (USD 12 400) and a post-service educational award of USD 5 730 that can be used to pay tuition at an eligible post-secondary educational institution.

Each DSF member cycles through placements at school sites in the Philadelphia School District. The pre-apprentices build IT skills while simultaneously developing basic workplace readiness “soft” skills. Each DSF member is mentored by a master technician, and also works closely with an UTP apprentice, to learn how to provide technical support for schools. During their year of service, fellows prepare for technical certifications and take a college level course. Fellows have the opportunity to develop customer service, project management, and leadership skills while delivering tech services at the school. Participants pass on their knowledge by training and providing service activities to students, teachers and parents.

The Fellows also prepare for what may be their first experience in a professional work environment by taking advantage of a variety of support services offered via UTP partners, including help with childcare, transportation, financial management, housing and access to social services.

As the DSF complete their year of service and prepare to transition to an apprentice position they are registered with the state’s Career Link programme, run by Philadelphia Works. Career Link provides assistance in job search, career counselling, and training.

Registered Apprenticeship: Computer Support Specialists

By 2003, an apprenticeship programme was put into place for DSF who had completed their year of service. This programme became known as Computer Support Specialists (CSS), and in 2005 it was approved as a registered apprenticeship programme by the state of Pennsylvania’s Apprenticeship and Training Council. Ronald Leonard, from the US Department of Labor’s Apprenticeship Office, explains that the UTP’s path to becoming an official Registered Apprenticeship (RA) programme was not straightforward. After initially reviewing UTP’s proposal, this governor-appointed council in Pennsylvania noted the UTP was an uncommon and extremely novel programme and did not initially approve it. The council typically reviews construction-oriented apprenticeship programmes. Yet after attending a site visit and presentation about the programme, council members were extremely impressed and voted unanimously to approve the programme. The subsequent success of the UTP has paved the way for additional innovative programmes in the state. Ten years after the UTP’s inception, the high tech industry in the state has much more confidence that there will be a positive reception for any RA proposal they put forth (Leonard, 2016).

The Computer Support Specialists (CSS) are full-time staff who work for the Philadelphia School District for a minimum of two years. They are responsible for supporting the technology of their assigned school work site and work more independently than the DSF to meet the technology infrastructure needs of the school district. The apprentices solve problems and fix technology daily at their site. Additionally, they are provided with incentives and resources to take advanced courses and receive industry-recognised certifications and credentials. The programme also offers participants the opportunity to pursue college coursework.

CSS are recruited from the DSF pre-apprenticeship programme, but can also enter the programme through other avenues. Some have come to the programme after completing some higher education or technical school training, while others were employed in another field prior to applying for the programme. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, they are awarded a nationally recognised journeyperson certificate as Computer Support Specialists.

Post-apprenticeship

As the apprenticeship programme matured, programme architects considered how to best launch apprentices into the workforce. The school district was an obvious first step as a post-apprenticeship employer because the traditional trajectory for apprentices is to continue employment at the apprenticeship site. In addition, the apprentices were familiar with the workplace norms and culture and had proven their capabilities to the school district. Accepting full time employment was one way to offer the district a return on investment (ROI) for the apprenticeship programme. The participants had also developed many professional connections throughout the district during their apprenticeship, and as a result were able to find full-time positions in a variety of offices.

However, the financially strapped school district was unable to hire all of the qualified UTP graduates, which led the UTP to consider external employment options for participants. This became an opportunity for the apprentices to specialise in other areas of IT beyond a computer support specialist position. Branching out into employment in the private sector enabled the former apprentices to build on their fundamental technology skills while developing more specialised skillsets. Further, this framework allowed graduates the opportunity to offer their skills to employers beyond purely technology companies. There was a recognition that the skills gained in an IT apprenticeship, including digital competencies, problem-solving, and life-long learning, are valuable in other fields as well.

The UTP initially began to build informal relationships with the employers in Philadelphia’s burgeoning technology scene and beyond. Some apprentices were hired by technology companies including Jarvus, a web software engineering firm, and Springboard Media, an Apple authorised company that employs Apple certified technicians to sell and repair Apple products. These employers were impressed with the UTP graduates and, over time, began to approach the UTP for candidates for open positions. Today, there are approximately 30 employers in the city that directly approach the UTP for staffing needs. The employers are often willing to hire UTP participants prior to the completion of the apprenticeship programme, which demonstrates how well the UTP prepares apprentices for employment. However, it would be more idea for apprentices to complete the apprenticeship and earn their journeyperson certificate before progressing to full-time work.

The UTP aims to smooth the transition from apprenticeship to full-time work in two ways. First, the programme is developing a learning plan that involves competency-based skills mastery attainment instead of a model that features timed-based training requirements. This hybrid model allows apprentices to complete the programme sooner and also enables the employer to fill the vacant position more quickly. Secondly, the UTP is in the process of building more formal relationships with employers. In essence, future iterations of the programme may feature the UTP as an intermediary (sponsor of record) for multiple employers. The role of the UTP would be to ensure that apprenticeships are completed before participants directly transition to employment with partner employers. This structure is known as the “multiple employers and multiple intermediaries model” (see Figure 7.1).

Figure 7.1. Partnership and programme structures
picture

Source: UTP.

Through the UTP, partner employers receive employees who have acquired valuable technology competencies as well as less tangible but equally significant “soft” skills. The UTP aims to minimise the “skill gap” between the competences of participants and the requirements of the job opportunities prior to the hiring process. With the current model, the employer’s return on investment is high, as minimal money and time is spent training the employees. Additionally, the UTP deals with the bureaucracy and paperwork to manage the registered apprenticeship, and provides the supporting services necessary to help participants prepare for the workforce.

Freire explains that over time, employer partners have become more actively involved with the growth of the apprentices and now help to support the training and development of participants who eventually go on to work at the business. In this evolving model, the school district may begin to shift its primary focus towards supporting the pre‐apprenticeship programme by incorporating them into Career and Technical Education programmes at the high school level. As these high school students graduate, they would be prepared to directly enter the apprenticeship component of UTP that would take place at an employer partner site.

The school district aims to foster the positive development of Philadelphia’s youth, and thus views the movement of pre-apprentices or apprentices to private employment as an acceptable, or even a desirable, outcome. Although the district might not realise a traditional ROI from the apprentice that it has trained and supported, they and the broader community benefit by supporting young people to become productive citizens. Another important benefit of this model is the fact the apprentices receive tailored mentorship in a school environment, which may be a relatively more nurturing environment than a private workplace.

Core components of a registered apprenticeship

The UTP provides participants with what the US Office of Apprenticeship identifies as the five core components of a registered apprenticeship programme:

  1. On-the-job training (OJT)

  2. Related technical instruction (RI)

  3. Reward for skills earned

  4. National occupational credentials

  5. Direct business involvement

On-the-job training

After an initial orientation, apprentices interview for work site positions and are placed in high schools or administrate offices throughout the school district for 35 hours a week. Each apprentice is assigned a mentor at the work site, usually the technology teacher leader (TTL), and may also themselves serve as a mentor to a pre-apprentice DSF. Apprentices provide support to school-run technology education programmes and assist in providing maintenance services and technology support to school staff, students, and community members.

Related technical instruction (RI)

While completing their apprenticeship, UTP participants are afforded opportunities to earn college credit and industry recognised credentials. They participate in pre-graduate coursework, which can lead to an associate’s degree or can be transferred to a four year college. Graduates complete up to 5 000 hours of hands-on training and can earn up to three industry standard certifications.

The UTP’s OJT and RI structure is a hybrid of several federal apprenticeship models. In a traditional apprenticeship model, apprentices receive both related instruction and on the job training concurrently throughout the programme. In contrast, a segmented apprenticeship model enables apprentices to alternate between related instruction and on the job training. During the school year, the CSS follow a more traditional model and receive training while working on-site. However, the programme takes advantage of the school district’s summer school break by offering apprentices the opportunity to take classes at the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), a scenario which resembles a segmented apprenticeship model. As the UTP continues to develop, it is planning to offer a front-loaded apprenticeship model in which apprentices receive some related instruction prior to starting on-the-job training. This would enable apprentices to develop initial core technological competences as well as specialised skills while completing the on-the-job training. Currently, all UTP apprentices work on a computer support tech track. However, participants are expressing interest in other technology fields. In transitioning to employment, they often use the skills they’ve acquired as an entry point to different careers. Shifting to a front-loaded apprenticeship model would enable participants to independently pursue their interests and autonomously engage in training.

Reward for skills earned

The UTP apprentices participate in regular performance evaluations with the Teacher Technology Lead (TTL) and the UTP programme supervisor. They receive progressive wage increases as their skills increase and benchmarks are met.

National occupational credentials

Upon mastery of workplace competencies, apprentices receive a journeyperson certificate. The US Apprenticeship Office promotes three types of programme design for credential attainment. The UTP currently employs a time-based model, in which apprentices receive certification after completing a certain number of hours of on-the-job training and related instruction. However, the programme is moving toward a more flexible hybrid model, which requires a specific allocation of time for training and instruction, in combination with the successful demonstration of competences.

A third programme design is purely competency based. Participants progress at their own pace, and complete proficiency tests without a time requirement. UTP may consider this model for the future. Programmes that are flexible with hourly requirements are particularly well suited for the technology field, where skills and competencies are in constant flux. The UTP’s experience is that employer partners are inclined to hire apprentices as soon as they demonstrate certain competencies, even if they have not completed all of the required programme hours. Eliminating strict hourly completion requirements will support apprentices in obtaining journeyperson certification prior to transitioning to employment.

Direct business involvement

As discussed, the UTP partners with employers to support apprentices as they transition to employment. As the UTP’s relationship with employer partners evolves, it is moving towards a more complex apprenticeship model. The traditional apprenticeship model features a single employer that provides all components of the apprenticeship by sponsoring the apprentices, providing services and offering both on-the-job training and related technical instruction. In contrast, the UTP strives to offer a multi-stakeholder model that includes multiple employers, an intermediary, and a community college. The intermediary, CISP, sponsors the apprentices and provides services to them. Employers, including the SDP and other business partners provide on-the-job training. As funding permits, the Community College of Philadelphia acts as the education provider for UTP and provides related instruction. By embedding multiple employers into the programme, the UTP is providing increased opportunities for new experiences and networks for apprentices while also boosting future employment opportunities.

Impact

The UTP has sponsored 106 apprentices since the inception of the apprenticeship programme (pre-apprentices and high school students involved with UTP are not included in this figure). Of this total, 69 apprentices completed apprenticeship requirements, 17 are current apprentices, and 20 did not complete the programme. Approximately 68% of participants have remained in an IT occupation (hired by the school district, non-profits, or private industry), 8% are employed in other occupations, and 4% are enrolled full-time in a higher education institution (see Table 7.1).

Table 7.1. UTP youth apprenticeship outcomes, 2004-16

Apprenticeship Participant Status

Totals

Employed in IT Field

Employed in other fields

Attending College full-time

No available data

Completed apprenticeship

 69

47

6

4

12

Current apprentices (FY16)

 17

17

0

0

 0

Did not complete apprenticeship

 20

 8

2

0

10

TOTAL

106

72

8

4

22

Percentage

100%

67.92%

7.55%

3.77%

20.75%

Source: UTP.

In terms of demographic data of participants, Tables 7.2 and 7.3 provide an overview of those served by the programme. Approximately 80% of participants are youth of colour, which contrasts heavily with both the typical US apprentice (of whom only 10% are African American) and the local Philadelphia IT workforce (80% white and male). While the programme still features relatively few women (20%), the overall female participation in the UTP is more than double the national average female apprenticeship participation rate (6%).

Table 7.2. CSS historical racial/ethnic demographics, 2004-16

Totals

Percentage

American Indian/Alaska Native

  2

  1.9

Asian

  7

  6.6

Black

 56

 52.8

Hispanic

 20

 18.9

White

 21

 19.8

TOTAL

106

100.0

Source: UTP

Table 7.3. UTP youth apprenticeship gender participation, 2004-16

Totals

Percentage

Male

85

80.2

Female

21

19.8

Source: UTP.

A recent survey of current and former UTP participants and alumni captured a snapshot of the earning potential of apprentices over time. At the start of the apprenticeship, 79% of participants were classified as “opportunity youth”. At present, apprentices who successfully complete the programme earn starting salaries between USD 35 000-50 000. Alumni of the programme report an annual salary range of USD 45 000-100 000 three to eight years after apprenticeship completion. In addition, over 70% of those surveyed report that they continue to pursue further higher education and/or technical training.

The survey also revealed, in their own words, what the apprentices are gaining from the programme. Respondents reflected on how the training and service components of the programme have helped them learn and grow, and how the UTP has supported the transition into professional careers:

“I am learning and doing what I love to do, and the best part is that I am getting paid to do it.”

“An incredible alternative to traditional education. Not only do you get to learn new skills on the job, network with established professionals in the community, but it also is ripe with opportunities to give back.”

“A great place to learn more about information technology, to grow as an individual, and gain professional experience.”

“Provided me a skill set that was transferable to any job, as well as management experience through projects, school settings, and non-profit organisation management.”

One participant, when asked how she would describe the programme to others, explained:

“I’d tell them they have the chance to meet amazing people, be part of something bigger than themselves and tell them how they’re going to impact youth and their communities.”

Many UTP alumni have moved beyond entry-level technical support IT positions and currently hold higher IT positions at a variety of business and government entities, including:

  • Network/systems administrator for an architecture company;

  • Webmaster at a large public institution;

  • Software engineer at a web development company;

  • Cyber Security Specialists for private and Governmental entities;

  • Vice President of Operations for an IT Solutions Firm;

  • Director of Operations at a web development company;

  • Investment consultant for one of the top financial firms in the world;

  • Owner of retail technology products company;

  • Owner of IT Solutions Firm.

Box 7.1. UTP Alumni spotlight – Jessie

Director of Operations, Jarvus

Jessie attended college for two years prior to joining UTP. At the time, she struggled financially with the cost of school while also feeling that college wasn’t the best learning environment for her at that particular point in her life. The opportunity to learn by serving appealed to her. She describes her time at UTP as a whirlwind of opportunity. While working at her assigned school, Jesse and some of her fellow DSFs connected with Devnuts, a venture of the web software engineering firm Jarvus. Devnuts is described as a tech oriented community centre in Philadelphia. After working at Devnuts and with Jarvus on a variety of projects, Jessie was eventually hired and is currently the Director of Operations for the company.

Jessie believes the many different paths of entry into and exit out of the UTP is a unique and exciting component of the programme. After three years of working at Jarvus, she emphasises that she is still learning, both technology skills as well as how to run a business. She reflects positively on her professional growth at UTP, as well as the variety of life experiences acquired. She values the importance of apprenticeships, and feels all industries should offer this opportunity.

Box 7.2. UTP Alumni spotlight – Shanelle

Teacher, School District of Philadelphia

Shanelle was recruited by UTP while attending an alternative high school, YouthBuild. While initially uncertain about her interest in technology, she became enamored with the programme. She has been involved with UTP in varying capacities for almost ten years, and UTP has become a second family to her. After completing the DSF and CSS programmes, she continued to work with UTP as a senior CSS, providing technology support in schools andmentoring new DSF. Most recently, she accepted a teaching position with the SDP to teach computer support technology in a high school CTE programme.

Shanelle talks to her students often about UTP, and how the programme benefited her. She helps her students work toward many of the same certifications she completed with UTP. She connects with her students by explaining she is from the same challenged neighborhood that they are, and they see her as a role model. She would like to stay with teaching for several years, to work with at least two groups of students as they go through the high school CTE cycle. At the same time, she will continue to pursue her own education, working on a degree in cyber security with an interest in applying this skill in a government job, like of her fellow UTP alumni.

Box 7.3. Apprentice spotlight – Derek

Derek is a current Computer Support Specialist, working in a high school where he receives rave reviews from the principal, mentor teacher technology leader (TTL), and the other staff and students he encounters. His principal marvels at Derek’s polished people skills, which the administrator stresses are essential for working in a school. The TTL speaks highly of Derek’s technological prowess and ability to solve the wide range of problems that crop up during the school day. In addition to supporting the technology in the school, Derek mentors a DSF working at the same school and sponsors a programmeming club for students. Prior to his work at his current school, Derek had been placed as a DSF at the high school that he himself had attended. He was amazed to discover that he felt like a colleague among his former teachers and possessed skills that he could use to assist them in teaching and supporting students.

Derek was referred to the DSF programme by a friend who was a CSS at the time. He credits the programme with developing his thoughts about his identity and direction, and feels he has been able to develop time management and people skills through the programme. He also credits the programme with providing him a sense of professionalism and an understanding of how the real world works. He valued the opportunity to interview for his current school-based work site and he received guidance from the programme about his resume and cover letter.

Like Shanelle, Derek also identifies UTP as a kind of family, one in which everyone is supportive of each other. Derek has a hearing impairment, and has felt like he has always been accommodated by the programme while at the same time has been made to feel normal. He has learned from others, and also enjoys the opportunity to mentor a pre‐apprentice.

Box 7.4. Apprentice spotlight: Maalik

Maalik is a high school graduate who dropped out because of health problems. As his health improved, he got back on track and earned his diploma from an alternative education public school. At this school he met a Computer Support Specialist, who encouraged him to join UTP. After graduation he became a DSF and completed his service time at the same school from which he graduated. After only 6 months of service, he was hired as a CSS and provides technical support to two alternative schools. He has always been interested in technology, but more importantly, he is interested in making something of his life and being a role model to younger peers. Through his experiences with UTP, he has gained so much confidence while also developing a sincere love for what he does on a daily basis.

As Maalik continues his development in the IT sector, he wants to focus on getting into the security aspect of technology. He would like to make this a career and earn a comfortable living. Technology is constantly moving, and so is he. His mentors and his apprenticeship experiences have taught him to never stop learning. He plans to achieve at least three certifications during his time at UTP, and make his mother, grandmother and two brothers proud.

Maalik recently spoke at a forum organised by The Century Foundation, entitled “Young, Educated, and Employed: Revitalizing Youth Apprenticeships in America.” Maalik provided testimony about what it means to an apprentice. In his words, ““I am learning and doing what I love to do, and the best part is that I am getting paid to do it.”

Box 7.5. Employer Spotlight – Chris

Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Jarvus Innovations

Chris is the founder and Chief Technology Officer of Jarvus Innovations, a web software engineering firm. He feels strongly that UTP is a wonderful model for youth in Philadelphia, and has mentored several apprentices in coding. He sees the strength in UTP’s culture of service as a learning tool, and he believes individuals learn technology best by starting with a real need and being given an opportunity to problem solve. Apprentices who work for the community are able to focus on their own development and learning while providing a positive benefit.

Jarvus’ experiences with the two apprentices they hired has sold them on the benefits of apprenticeships. Chris shares that the ROI for the company is huge. The apprenticeship model provides the employer the opportunity to train employees with the relevant skills needed on the job while building loyalty and creating a mentoring work culture that is beneficial for all employees. In addition, the fact that the employee does not carry the burden of a college education debt, lessens the pressure on employees to demand higher salaries and creates stability in the workplace. Presently, Jarvus is working with UTP to develop an apprenticeship track tailored to the skills requirements of local tech startups who need employees who can code. Chris believes UTP is an incubating and nurturing programme that offers a wonderful transition from student to professional career.

Strengths

The UTP is more than a stand-alone apprenticeship programme. The UTP recruits opportunity youth who may not otherwise find their way to a registered apprenticeship programme, and engages this population by offering technology experience through a service framework. Through on-the-job training and related instruction, participants prepare for the workforce by gaining both “hard” technology skills as well as “soft” skills (such as problem solving and self-reliance) that can be utilised in workplaces beyond technology companies. The UTP’s registered apprenticeship is strengthened by additional programme components that support the urban youth participants prior to entering the apprenticeship (the pre-apprenticeship DSF programme) as well as after they complete it (transition to employment). The UTP offers long-term, holistic support for participants including a pipeline of service-learning, industry training, on the job training, college coursework, and relevant employment. All UTP programmes are interconnected, providing what many participants identify as a family-like, supportive environment that enhances their learning. Participants engage in community building and develop a “pass it on” philosophy in order to take personal responsibility for determining what they need to learn and what they need to do. This philosophy makes UTP participants life-long learners who apply the lessons learned in the programme in subsequent employment and education experiences. The UTP succeeds in great part because of the flexibility it offers to participants, including multiple entry and exit points and opportunity for youth to reflect on their experiences and direct their learning and job preparation.

The UTP’s unique partnership with AmeriCorps, the United States’ national service programme, enables the UTP to include a strong pre-apprenticeship programme that offers participants a stipend as well as an educational award that can be used to pay for tuition after service. The AmeriCorps programme supports the UTP philosophy of service, and helps the programme recruit from a larger pool of candidates.

The pre-apprentice and apprentice programmes both involve working with mentors, and both participants and staff identify this as a valuable component of their learning experience. At some sites, the apprentice also acts as a mentor to the pre-apprentice. This fosters strong connections between the youth and adults in the programme, particularly as adults balance high expectations of performance with respect for apprentices. Participants who undertake the programme together also form strong bonds as they support each other with their learning as well as their personal growth. Additionally, the interconnected pipeline model of the UTP deepens links between cohorts in different stages of the programme. The older participants pass on their knowledge to the younger participants and serve as role models for their younger counterparts.

The programme was deliberately designed to use a school setting as the core work and learning site. The participants, many of whom graduated from the school district, view schools as both a valued community as well as a business enterprise where they can build skills for their future career. Apprentices in the schools are recognised as skilled workers charged with the important task of maintaining the school’s technological services. The school setting also provides crucial support: apprentices are providing services to teachers they may have studied with when they were younger and who understand the specific needs of the local community. Participants also receive support from UTP staff who are familiar with the needs of recent graduates from the system. Incorporating young apprentices into a high school setting also serves the purpose of influencing the school district’s methods of preparing K-12 students for life after education. The apprenticeship programme provides the school district with downward pressure to do a better job of preparing high school students, and helping the district identify what must be changed in order to adequately prepare students for post high school experiences.

As a public-private partnership, the UTP has more flexibility in setting the stage for the employment of participants following the successful completion of the apprenticeship. Rather than focusing primarily on a traditional ROI for the school district, the UTP yields a societal ROI by preparing productive citizens. This flexibility has also enabled the programme to build strong connections with local technology companies who are interested in hiring apprentices as they graduate from the programme, and sometimes prior to completing the apprenticeship. Employer partners have been very pleased with how well UTP participants are prepared for the workplace. Several strong employer partners are interested in formalising a relationship in which they would support apprentices in the programme, both as they develop skills at the school work site and also as they continue apprenticeship activities at the private employer’s site.

The UTP is an innovative programme that has developed a unique public-private collaboration to deliver apprenticeships to young people in urban Philadelphia. The UTP’s focus on both an emerging industry and a non-traditional population is unusual for apprenticeships in the United States. Technology is a unique industry in that it is constantly changing. The UTP does a good job of keeping abreast of these changes, both by offering relevant training and work experience for participants as well as building connections with employers who can further support the apprentices as they learn in this ever-changing environment. By offering these technological skills coupled with general workplace competencies, the UTP prepares young people for employment in technology companies and other, broader workplaces.

Figure 7.2. UTP Public/Private Partnership “eco-system”
picture

Source: UTP.

Weaknesses

The UTP is limited to some extent by the constraints of the School District of Philadelphia. Ideally, the pre-apprenticeship component of UTP would connect directly with students in high school. However, the district is primarily focused on providing academic experiences for K-12 students and provides limited opportunities to support career and technical education programmes or integrate pre-apprenticeships within the high school environment. Although situated within the district, the UTP lacks a seamless connection between the K-12 experience and the apprenticeship programme. Without this integration it takes longer for youth to complete the programme and move into employment, and it limits the impact that the programme has on the way the district teaches its students.

Today’s UTP model prepares all apprentices for entry level positions as computer support specialists. While some alumni have gone on to advance into other aspects of the IT industry, this is not a direct outcome of the programme. In order to serve diverse IT needs, the UTP needs to diversify the occupations that participants are trained for, and offer specialty tracks that apprentices can select based on their interests and career goals.

When reviewing the technical training available for apprentices, it becomes clear that the related instruction offered at Community College of Philadelphia was not developing the necessary IT certifications valued by employers. As a result, the UTP must work with participants to supplement the related instruction and ensure successful attainment of the IT certification. A stronger collaboration with education partners could eliminate duplication between training efforts.

The current model of UTP struggles on a regular basis to secure the funding needed to support and grow the programme. Formalising agreements with partner employers, and developing a plan for long-term stable training funds is a first step, but larger scale efforts are necessary. In order to ensure a secure and sustainable future for the UTP, as well as for other programmes who may wish to pursue the same model, the federal government must make stronger commitments to support apprenticeship programmes with both financial and logistical resources.

Recent data gathering from the programme reveals that females participate in UTP at a much lower rate (19.8%) than males. A participant interviewee also stressed this as a weakness of the programme. While this rate is markedly better than the US apprenticeship rate as a whole (only 6% of US registered apprentices are female), there is much work to be done.

Transferability

The UTP is an example of how to develop and operate a sustainable long-term apprenticeship model. Private employers typically don’t have continuous apprenticeship programmes; rather, the existence of programmes ebbs and flows depending on employer need. The UTP is able to sustain an apprenticeship programme in part because the initiative is a strong intermediary for an apprenticeship network that includes private employers and educational institutions. While employers are often primarily concerned with the ROI that an apprenticeship programme brings, the UTP is able to focus on the personal development of participants. As a public entity grounded in a local school district, the UTP is able to focus on social outcomes alongside building skills through on-the-job training, mentoring and other forms of education. In this way, the UTP is able to focus on “disconnected youth” by meeting their specific needs, valuing diversity, and supporting their cultural mores. The result is a societal ROI of preparing youth to be good citizens.

The UTP is a system in which the public sector and private sector connect in a mutually beneficial way. The UTP’s mission involves engaging participants and providing the support this population needs to prepare for the workforce. The UTP meets the needs of private employers by offering a skilled workforce for the business community, and employers support the mission of UTP by providing more specialised workplace training and ensuring that apprentices successfully enter the workforce. The fact that UTP includes a consortium of employer partners enables programme participants to find workplace experiences that align with their skills and interests. It also allows the programme to cut across sectors and offer participants experiences in IT companies as well as non-tech companies that need IT (universities, non-profits, etc.)

The UTP’s strong pipeline of experiences demonstrates that apprenticeship programmes, and the participants they serve, are strengthened when linked to pre-apprenticeship opportunities and post-apprenticeship networks with private employers. In particular, opportunity youth benefit from this type of continuum as this population is typically removed from apprenticeship opportunities and may need additional support to prepare for this experience. The programme experience is deepened by connecting the pre‐apprenticeship with an existing model of national service. The youth are engaged by the opportunity to provide service, and are put in a position to be productive adult, civically engaged, successfully employed citizens that remain life-long learners.

References

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Note

← 1. GED is an acronym for “General Education Development”. It represents a certification that is based on a series of subject tests and certifies that an individual has academic skills at the secondary level.