State Policy Playbook To Advance Youth Apprenticeship

By supporting and expending youth apprenticeship programs, states can create stronger connections across secondary and postsecondary educational institutions, workforce development systems and community-based organizations.


Executive Summary

During a time of increased concern over worker shortages, skill gaps and workforce readiness, youth apprenticeship has emerged as an important strategy to prepare the future workforce and meet the needs of the evolving economy, to build consistent and diverse talent pipelines and to improve career prospects and economic outcomes for learners. Governors are uniquely positioned to create, enhance and grow youth apprenticeship programs and the systems that support them. State leaders play a critical role in shaping a policy landscape that facilitates, rather than complicates or impedes, efforts to increase the availability of high-quality youth apprenticeship pathways into family-sustaining careers or further postsecondary education.

Creating this environment requires policies that broadly support career readiness ecosystems by improving connections and alignment across education and workforce systems, as well as policies that specifically support youth apprenticeship programs and facilitate greater student, employer and partner participation.

This state policy playbook lays out several actions that can foster high-quality youth apprenticeship. Specifically, Governors and state leaders can:  

  • Establish a statewide vision and definitions;
  • Establish a statewide governance structure;
  • Champion youth apprenticeship;
  • Improve systems alignment;
  • Use data to inform program creation, implementation and accountability;
  • Establish new mechanisms to engage employers;
  • Reduce logistical, regulatory and financial barriers to employer participation and
  • Leverage existing resources and identify new resources.


Youth apprenticeship is a strategy for building a more inclusive economy by creating affordable, reliable and equitable pathways from high school to good careers and college degrees. Youth apprenticeship is a structured work-based learning program that connects the educational needs of students with the talent needs of industry.

The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) is a national partner in the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA), a multiyear collaborative created and launched by New America in 2018 to help states and cities expand access to high-quality apprenticeship opportunities for high school age youth. PAYA aims to improve public understanding and awareness of youth apprenticeship, inform learning across the country by sharing best practices about conditions and strategies needed for successful and sustainable partnerships and support the growth of youth apprenticeship.

To learn more about the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship, please visit: