Strengthening Employer And Industry Engagement: A Self-Assessment Tool for Youth Apprenticeship Leaders

This self-assessment tool is designed to help youth apprenticeship program administrators and policymakers determine how effectively a program is engaging employers and industry to meet program development, implementation, and sustainability goals.


Youth apprenticeship initiatives rely on partnerships with employers and industry to launch, expand, and strengthen high-quality programs that include the following four core elements:

  • Paid, on-the-job learning supervised by skilled employee mentors
  • Related, classroom-based instruction
  • Ongoing assessment against established skills and competency standards
  • Culmination in a portable, industry-recognized credential and postsecondary credit

Thoughtful employer and industry engagement is critical to ensuring programs align with the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship (PAYA) principles for high-quality youth apprenticeship and are designed for sustainability.

It is important to understand how employer and industry engagement strategies differ and to understand the importance of pursuing both types of engagement

Employer engagement is critical for ensuring programs meet the needs of the apprentice and the employer. It refers to outreach to and partnership with individual employers to design, implement, grow, and continuously improve apprenticeship programs for youth. Successful employer engagement:

  • Aligns programs with current workforce needs
  • Structures learning around skills and competencies necessary for success on the job and the attainment of industry-recognized credentials
  • Recruits and supports the participation of youth, especially those adversely impacted by structural inequities
  • Ensures return on investment for employers

Industry engagement expands the reach and applicability of programs and skills. It refers to outreach to and partnership with a group of employers within an industry, often through industry associations, chambers of commerce, or other business or industry-focused intermediary organizations to design and implement programs for youth. Successful industry engagement:

  • Ensures that programs offer adaptable skills that are recognized across an industry or sector
  • Supports program expansion and prepares programs for sustainability and resiliency
  • Develops common language around skills, competencies, and occupations to communicate industry needs to training providers
  • Aggregates demand for apprentices in a particular occupation to inform recruitment and placement strategies
  • Smooths demand for apprentices year to year as hiring demand shifts among individual employers

Employers and industry groups have important roles to play in curriculum and competency development, the creation of pathway progressions, apprentice recruitment, growth and sustainability planning, and networking. A clear understanding of when, how, and how often to engage individual employers and industry organizations in these activities is key to the long-term success of youth apprenticeship initiatives.

There is no one right way to go about engaging employers and industry partners, however. Not all partnerships are alike. They tend to vary based on the stage of the relationship and program implementation, the communication preferences of the partners, and the level of resources required to support a given program.

This tool was create by New America in partnership with NGA.