Apprenticeships: Paid Opportunities to Learn Skilled Trades

Posted September 10, 2021


What comes to mind when you think of an apprenticeship? A 19th century shoemaker? Mickey Mouse and the sorcerer? You may be surprised to learn that a growing number of today’s employers in health care, construction, information technology, financial services, engineering and more now offer programs to allow Kansans to obtain their education and job experience simultaneously through an apprenticeship.

What Is an Apprenticeship?

Young people in search of career training in Kansas have many types of apprenticeship options available to them. One such option is the Registered Apprenticeship Program though KANSASWORKS, the state employment database. Registered Apprenticeship is an employment and training program in which job seekers earn wages while learning a skilled profession in a specific field. 

For those 18 or older, registered apprenticeships provide a way to train for a skilled trade on the job, but that’s not all. These days, they provide a more comprehensive experience, including a classroom instruction component and a certificate upon completion.

To encourage Kansas high school students under 18 to consider apprenticeships, KANSASWORKS offers a Youth Registered Apprenticeship program as well. The program forms an agreement between the school, student, parents and apprenticeship employer, then places the student in a part-time job while they complete graduation requirements. After graduation, the student has marketable skills and possibly even credits with a community college or trade school, and their employment continues with regular wage increases.

While similar to an internship, an apprenticeship differs in that an individual is completing on-the-job training for a position they intend to keep when they finish the program. Internships don’t typically offer classroom learning, and while there are both paid and unpaid internships, all apprentices through KANSASWORKS earn wages on a graduated scale commensurate with training progress. 

Why Apprenticeships?

With a growing workforce shortage and rising wages in the skill trades, Kansans need to know their options when it comes to choosing and preparing for a career. Thousands of employers in many industries offer customizable apprenticeship programs that let the apprentice earn a living while learning from an experienced mentor—and graduates of apprenticeship programs usually advance more rapidly and can move into supervisory positions in a few years.

Parents are often a factor in a young person’s decision about post-secondary training. A 2019 Kansas Department of Education survey of nearly 19,000 Kansas parents indicates that a significant number of parents had a positive opinion of apprenticeships. More than 80% of respondents selected either “very happy,”  “happy” or “neutral” when asked how they’d feel about their child choosing an apprenticeship directly after high school. Public opinion indicates we’re ready to focus more on apprenticeships. 

Apprenticeships are a win-win situation, with businesses and workers alike benefitting from the graduated pay scale and specially tailored training. Employers have even reported an increase in employee loyalty and lower turnover with the model, naturally resulting in increased productivity and decreased training costs. 

College Is Also Part of the Picture

Completing an apprenticeship doesn’t rule out college. Far from it. In fact, according to KANSASWORKS, hundreds of partnerships between apprenticeship programs and two- and four-year colleges nationwide offer associate and bachelor’s degrees along with apprenticeship certificates. The model works well, with college departments and local industry partners creating customized programs that best meet the industry’s needs. 

Don’t Overlook Apprenticeships

A previously overlooked but viable option, apprenticeships are back in style and have become a smart way for many to embark on a successful career. When you and your child talk about ways to make a living, don’t forget to give apprenticeships a mention. It pays (literally) to consider all the options! 

When your child is ready to take the first steps, have them apply to become an apprentice through KANSASWORKS. The process is simple: 

  1.  Identify a desired trade or occupation.
  2. Locate an employer offering the trade or occupation in the Registered Apprenticeship Program.
  3. Contact the prospective employer.
  4. Share your story with KANSASWORKS