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Update: Youth Apprenticeship Modernization

Monday, December 6, 2021

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has been consulting industry leaders during the past three years to determine if current Youth Apprenticeship (YA) career pathways reflect Wisconsin’s workforce needs and modifying them if necessary. This process, the Youth Apprenticeship Program Modernization Initiative organized into three parts or “tiers” of projects and is now in its third and final year.

Objectives include: maximize dual enrollment credits, increase the number of certificates a student may earn, expand into new emerging technologies, and ensure seamless alignment with the registered apprenticeship program.

Youth Apprenticeship is a state-legislated work-based learning program, which is often a component of a school district’s career pathway programs. The requirements that the DWD has embedded into YA through the Modernization Initiative have helped further align YA with both local and regional career pathways.

In addition, the State-Certified Employability Skills Certificate is embedded into every YA program so that students have the potential to earn both a YA and an Employability Skills Certificate upon completion of the program.

Considerations for development of a new pathway include, but are not limited to, the following criteria:

  1. The industry/occupational cluster is a stable or growth industry in the state, which needs skilled workers, as demonstrated by labor market information and/or industry testimony.
  2. The industry provides good jobs with sustainable wage levels.
  3. There is a career ladder and/or advancement potential for entry-level employees within the industry without extensive educational requirements.
  4. Jobsites are available statewide for youth apprentices, or there is significant regional concentration of employment opportunities.
  5. Businesses within the industry are committed to assisting with program development and hiring youth apprentices.
  6. Training provided by the youth apprenticeship program will result in higher entry-level wages and/or opportunities within the industry upon program completion.

The first two years of the YA Program Modernization Initiative resulted in six new pathways (see Tiers 1 and 2 below for details):

  • Health Science: Resident Aide
  • Information Technology: IT Broadband Technician
  • Manufacturing: Electro-mechanical / Mechatronics
  • Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (two pathways): Arborist, Dairy Grazier
  • Architecture and Construction: Heavy Equipment / Operating Engineers

Tier 1 entailed the review of five occupational area pathways and the development of two new pathways. Those occupational areas and pathways include:

  • Finance (Pathways: Accounting, Banking, and Insurance)
  • Health Science - Phase 1 (Pathways: Medical Office, Nursing Assistant, and Resident Aide (New))
  • Hospitality and Tourism (Pathways: Food and Beverages Services, Meetings and Events, and Lodging)
  • Information Technology (Pathways: IT Broadband Technician (New), IT Essentials, IT Network Security and Security, and IT Software and Application Development)
  • Manufacturing - Phase 1 (Pathways: Assembly and Packaging, Industrial Equipment, Electro-mechanical / Mechatronics (New), Machining, Manufacturing and Processes, Production Operations, and Welding

Tier 2 reviewed three occupational areas and three new pathways. These occupational areas and pathways include:

  • Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (Pathways: Agriculture Mechanic Technician, Animal Fundamentals, Animal / Herd, Arborist (New), Crops, Dairy Grazier (New), Environmental Systems: Basic and Advanced / Water Resources, Floral / Greenhouse, Landscaping, Plant Fundamentals, and Small Animal / Vet Technician)
  • Architecture and Construction (Pathways: Architecture Drafting and Planning, Carpentry Fundamentals, Electrical Fundamentals, Heavy Equipment Operator and Operating Engineer (New), Masonry / Concrete Fundamentals, Mechanical / HVAC Fundamentals, Plumber / Sprinkler Fitter Fundamentals)
  • Arts, Audio Visual Technology and Communications (Pathways: Graphic Design, Pre-Press Operator, and Press and Post-Press Operator)

The Modernization Initiative has now entered Tier 3, which includes review of four occupational areas:

  • (Current review) Health Science - Phase 2 (Pathways: Dental Assistant, Dietary, Imaging, Laboratory, Medical Assistant, Optician / Optometry, Pharmacy Technician, and Physical Therapy)
  • (Current review) Transportation, Distribution, and Logistics (TDL) (Pathways: Auto Collision, Auto Technician, Diesel Technician, and Logistics and Supply Chain Management)
  • (December review) STEM: (Pathways: Bioscience Foundation and Bioscience Application, Civil Engineering, Engineering Drafting, and Mechanical / Electrical Engineering)
  • (January review) Marketing: (Pathways: Marketing Communications, Marketing Research / Competitive Intelligence, Marketing Management / Leadership, Merchandising, and Professional Sales)

For more information about the Wisconsin Youth Apprenticeship Modernization Initiative, contact Amy Phillips or Olivia Conklin, WI Youth Apprenticeship Coordinators, DWD Bureau of Apprenticeship Standards, at or