When the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA) created a National Youth Leadership Council (NYLC) in 2023, the organization invited youth apprentices from across the country to apply to serve. A committee of national experts, youth apprenticeship program staff, and a former youth apprentice reviewed applications and selected 15 young people from across the country to join the first NYLC. Braden McAlpine from Pembroke, New Hampshire was selected to be part of this inaugural group.
Braden says he “applied because I love the idea of being part of something that gets the idea of apprenticeships out there. I talked to my peers at school about apprenticeships, but it was just in conversation. With the youth council, I want to part of an effort to get the word out there about the value of apprenticeships.”
Braden graduated from Pembroke Academy in 2022 and moved right into a position installing heating and cooling units for MSI Mechanical Systems, Inc., a full-service mechanical contractor based in Salem. Both he and his employer credit ApprenticeshipNH for creating a pathway for mutually beneficial employment.
Braden knew that his future was going to be in the trades as early as middle school. He would help his grandmother maintain an apartment building she owned and discovered he loved the work. He set his sights on a career in the trades and began taking classes at Concord Regional Technical Center during his junior year in high school. He took a heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) and electrical theory class from Manchester Community College (MCC) while he was still in high school, while also jumping at the opportunity to participate in a pre-apprenticeship program offered by ApprenticeshipNH. As part of that program, Braden job shadowed at three different companies, including MSI Mechanical. “As soon as I started with MSI I knew I wanted to be with them. The company is amazing. The people are great. I wanted the opportunity to work with the whole team,” Braden says.
Braden got his chance in his senior year in high school when Brian Hooper, vice president of operations at MSI, offered him an apprenticeship during February and April school vacations. Brian had been working with ApprenticeshipNH for a few years and was dedicated to bringing the next generation into the trades.
“I’m committed to investing resources on this to give all students a path. It gives students a feeling of self-worth that someone out there wants you if you are not on a college track.” Brian said that apprenticeships provide students like Braden a chance to try out a career and evaluate whether it is right for them.
Braden loved working with MSI Mechanical, and the feeling was mutual. “Braden is incredible. He is such a hard worker,” Brian comments. Braden joined the MSI Mechanical team in 2022 and Brian is quick to point out that he will soon be graduating at the top of his class from an HVAC program at MCC.
Braden’s overwhelmingly positive experience with apprenticeships inspired him to apply for the youth leadership council. The NYLC members collaborate virtually each month to brainstorm and implement ideas to advance youth apprenticeship. In July 2024, they will share their work with national leaders.
“The whole apprenticeship path for me has been amazing. I knew I wanted to do something hands-on and here I am. I’m excited to get the word out so other people can have this experience,” Braden said.