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If you are a high school senior, how many times has someone asked you, “What do you plan to do after High School?” There are many options to consider, but if you are in the Youth Apprenticeship program, you could move into a Registered Apprenticeship program. 

According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) a Registered Apprenticeship (RA) is an “earn while you learn” program providing on-the-job training and related instruction.  When you start a new job, the employer will teach you the skills of the occupation, and a technical college or private training center teaches the theoretical knowledge pertaining to the specific occupation. A registered apprenticeship combines both skills and knowledge during the training so you are fully prepared to move into a skilled, technical position.

As a Youth Apprentice, you may be able to BRIDGE to a Registered Apprenticeship. A “bridged” Youth Apprenticeship program positions you, as a Youth Apprenticeship graduate, towards a tangible milestone in a related Registered Apprenticeship. Examples could include testing out of the first year of Registered Apprenticeship instruction, receiving credit for hours worked, or receiving higher placement on a waiting list. 

What’s the big deal? For most Registered Apprenticeships, the number of hours you have accumulated at that job will determine when you can move to the next pay increase and how you advance through the program. If you were a Youth Apprentice and completed one Youth Apprenticeship Pathway like welding, you could start with up to 450 hours. If you did 2 Youth Apprenticeship pathways like welding and maintenance it could be more! Not only will you move more quickly towards completing your Registered Apprenticeship but that also can equate to increasing your wage at a quicker rate than those without a YA!

Keep in mind that companies may only choose to honor the YA hours in the pathway that relates to your RA. For example, if you wanted to take a welding pathway for your Registered Apprenticeship, the employer may only take the Youth Apprenticeship hours you earned while welding instead of the hours you earned while you were machining. However, the old saying is if you don’t ask, you don’t receive. So go ahead and ask the business if they will honor all or part of your Youth Apprenticeship hours earned in different pathways. Look at your checklist to see what you learned as a Youth Apprentice and how that relates to the Registered Apprenticeship. Have a conversation to see if your hours can be honored! 

In addition, many employers may help you pay for additional education that is part of your RA journey! They typically pay you for not only the days you are at work but the days you are at school too! THAT IS A GREAT DEAL! I was never paid to attend school!

As a Registered Apprentice, you earn while you learn. You may even come out without any additional debt for attending a technical college. If you have completed a Registered Apprenticeship but are a few credits away from your Associate’s Degree- it is worth taking the classes you need to complete that, even if you have to pay for it! You will have skills and certifications that will help you as you advance in your career.

So be prepared for the next time someone asks you, “What do you plan to do after High School?” You may be better prepared to answer that than you ever thought possible!

Written By

Kathy Sewell-Jensen an employee of GPS Education Partners

Kathy Sewell-Jensen
Work-based Learning Coordinator
GPS Education Partners

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