How Governors Scale High-Quality Youth Apprenticeship


To succeed in the job market, young people need education or training beyond high school. Governors are prioritizing youth apprenticeship programs to connect more young people to career paths, while filling businesses’ unmet workforce needs. Youth apprenticeship programs often remain underused, especially in high-growth, white-collar industries. Governors are exploring ways to guide development and expansion of these programs.

This National Governors Association Center for Best Practices white paper explores three strategies that governors can use to expand youth apprenticeship, drawing from the experiences of four states.

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) is a member of the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA), created by New America. In 2018, PAYA launched a multiyear collaborative initiative that supports efforts in states and cities to expand access to highquality apprenticeship opportunities for more high school youth. PAYA aims to improve public understanding and awareness of high-quality youth apprenticeship, inform learning across the country by sharing best practices about the conditions and strategies needed for successful and sustainable youth apprenticeship partnerships, and support the growth of high-quality youth apprenticeship. As part of its participation in this initiative, the NGA Center has produced this white paper based on insights and best practices identified in states during the first year of the initiative and on independent research.

Three strategies that governors can use to expand youth apprenticeship

  1. Act as a public champion by setting a statewide vision and convening stakeholders to collaboratively implement that vision.
  2. Allocate and use dedicated funding to start and expand programs that support youth apprentices and guide them through their career pathways.
  3. Implement policies that provide long-term support for high-quality youth apprenticeship programs.

PAYA’s Defining principles for high-quality youth apprenticeship

  • Career-oriented: Learning is structured based on knowledge, skills and competencies that lead to careers with family-supporting wages.
  • Equitable: Learning is accessible to every student, with targeted support for those adversely affected by long-standing inequities in our education system and labor market.
  • Portable: Learning leads to postsecondary credentials and transferable college credit that expand options for students
  • Adaptable: Learning is designed collaboratively to be recognized and valued across an industry or sector.
  • Accountable: Student, employer and program outcomes are monitored using transparent metrics to support improvement.


Governors have a unique opportunity to prepare a highly skilled workforce and address employers’ needs through the development and expansion of high-quality youth apprenticeship. Youth apprenticeship is a work-based learning strategy that aligns education and training systems with the needs of employers. Through youth apprenticeship programs, high school youth benefit by earning paid work experience, academic credit and an industry-recognized credential that prepares them for in-demand jobs at little to no cost to them. Preparing students for the workforce and meeting employers’ needs reduce the risk of youth unemployment and underemployment; they also reduce the drain on limited state and federal resources to serve disconnected youth populations. Governors see the urgency in preparing students with the skills they need for in-demand jobs and addressing local businesses’ talent needs. By acting as public champions, setting a statewide vision and convening stakeholders in support of youth apprenticeship; allocating and using dedicated funding; and implementing policies that provide long-term support for high-quality youth apprenticeship programs, governors will encourage the creation and expansion of these programs across the country.