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Youth Apprenticeship Program Launched in Blount County


Monday, July 20, 2020   

MARYVILLE, Tenn. -- This summer, high school students in Blount County will have the chance to apprentice in information technology, culinary arts, and building maintenance fields. It's one facet of a partnership between the group Tennessee Valley Youth Apprenticeships, The Urban Institute, and local businesses.

Zach Boren, senior policy program manager at the Urban Institute, said research shows youth apprenticeship programs help students make quicker transitions from school into the labor market, while gaining valuable career skills.

"The data really bears out. What we find is about 94% of apprentices that are trained through a registered apprenticeship program stay with that employer. And they earn, on average, about $70,000 a year upon completion," Boren said.

Youth apprenticeships can range from one to six years. According to federal data, Tennessee has around 487 registered programs and more than 5,000 active apprentices. A 2012 study of registered apprenticeship programs in 10 states found students who had completed an apprenticeship earned an average of about $5,800 more than non-participants with similar backgrounds.

While apprenticeships in restaurants may wane during the pandemic, Boren said in many other industries, companies continue to design and launch apprenticeship programs as a way to build up their workforce. He added the nation's health crisis is driving up demand for more skilled workers at home.

"We're seeing no slowdown in manufacturing, in IT and in healthcare," he said. "So, we see that this is a really valuable opportunity."

A recent survey found COVID-19 has prompted 2 in 3 manufacturing companies to consider bringing their production to North America. Of the companies surveyed, 26% have apprenticeship programs, and more than half of those were unaffected by the pandemic.

Support for this reporting was made possible by Lumina Foundation.

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