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The Impacts of Pre-Apprenticeship Programs

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Following the positive impact of the ApprenticeshipNH program to Granite State businesses and the hundreds of employees that benefitted from the education and training they received, the program was expanded in 2020 to launch a new initiative designed specifically for high school students so they too can “earn while they learn.” Run by the Community College System of NH (CCSNH) and developed with industry input, the ApprenticeshipNH High School program (ApprenticeshipNH-HS) aligns with the goals and structure of ApprenticeshipNH and builds off past success and expertise of the original program, which launched in 2017.

The high school program follows a pre-apprenticeship to Registered Apprenticeship model and can begin as early as 10th grade. As students progress through their pre-apprenticeship educational programming, they are introduced to potential careers and learn the skills necessary to prepare them for successful completion of a Registered Apprenticeship later on.

A pre-apprenticeship program, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor, is:

“…a program or set of strategies that is designed to prepare individuals to enter and succeed in a Registered Apprenticeship Program.”

With a focus on providing students with a hands-on learning experience, these programs are employer-driven and pair structured on-the-job learning with classroom education to yield a national industry certificate while earning progressively higher wages.

The pathway from pre-apprenticeship to Registered Apprenticeship can begin with students as early as 10th grade. These students may be enrolled in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Program, a dual enrollment course through one of the seven NH community colleges or even take part in classes designed with pre-apprenticeship and career exploration in mind. As student-apprentices advance through their educational programming, the sponsoring employer of a Registered Apprenticeship will identify the applicable academic activities of the student’s pre-apprenticeship.

With flexibility in timing being a key component of the high school initiative, the program is designed to accommodate the student’s schedule by focusing on related instruction while a student participates in on-the-job learning during school breaks, after school and even during the school day when the student’s schedule allows. Students are then able to enter a Registered Apprenticeship while in the process of finishing 12th grade or immediately upon graduation. This unique approach enables students to align their part-time job with future career goals, learn the top skills that industries are looking for and begin a meaningful career with little to no student debt.

The role of the ApprenticeshipNH-HS team is to serve as an intermediary for schools and businesses by connecting the Registered Apprenticeship program to the high school curriculum and providing technical assistance for the development of the pre-apprenticeship. Coordinating efforts between the school, business and U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), the ApprenticeshipNH-HS team helps to build a mutually beneficial education model. Additionally, the sponsoring employer will receive guidance throughout the process of registering their apprenticeship with the DOL.

One such example of this collaborative partnership is geared towards students in southern New Hampshire with an interest in pursuing a career in HVAC, building trades, plumbing or any who are mechanically inclined. Designed specifically for high school seniors, students enroll in HVAC 101 at Manchester Community College and attend courses on Saturdays for a period of eight weeks while also engaging in work-based learning (WBL). Over the course of their WBL, the students will rotate through three separate HVAC companies to experience a mix of residential and commercial applications, with two to three consecutive days at each company.

After the first semester of this program, students begin their spring semester with a paid internship at a company of their choosing. The internship schedule is designed to follow the WBL schedule and students engage in tasks that directly align with on-the-job training as outlined in the company’s Standards of Apprenticeship. The tasks are all appropriate for students under the age of 18 and are intended to be transferable skills related directly to their industry, such as:

  • use and care of tools,
  • safety and best practices
  • loading and unloading of equipment


Upon completion of the student’s internship, they are then guaranteed an interview for open apprenticeship positions.

ApprenticeshipNH-HS benefits not only student-apprentices participating in the program, but also the sponsoring employer. The Registered Apprenticeship is employer-driven and designed to help companies develop a pipeline of skilled, productive workers on the cutting edge of industry knowledge and best-practices. This is vitally important for careers in construction and infrastructure, as the pool of skilled tradespeople ensures companies are well-prepared to fill vacancies as they occur with an aging workforce and tight labor market. For schools, the program helps support a smooth transition from high school to post-secondary education or immediate career options with reliable future opportunities.

The demand for these apprentices is expected to continue to be strong for many years. In New Hampshire there are projected to be over 500 job openings annually for Construction Laborers and as many as 160 annual openings for Construction Managers through 2028.

Employers interested in developing an apprenticeship of their own may visit https://apprenticeshipnh.com/request-info/for-employers/ to get started.

Don’t forget to register for the National Apprenticeship Week celebration this Friday, November 19th from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

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