WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today announced the Apprentice Trailblazer initiative, which will create a national network of apprentices and apprenticeship graduates whose individual stories may inspire career seekers interested in becoming apprentices. 

The initiative will also give them a platform to share their diverse stories and experiences and show how registered apprenticeships increase opportunities for underserved populations. The announcement comes on the 86th anniversary of the National Apprenticeship Act that established the Registered Apprenticeship system.

“Eighty-six years ago, our country took a historic step by formalizing standards for Registered Apprenticeships, especially those related to safety, health and welfare of apprentices,” said Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su. “Today, the Department of Labor honors that legacy by introducing the first nationwide network of registered apprentices as we continue to modernize this proven strategy for workforce development and meet the nation’s critical workforce needs.”

The Apprentice Trailblazer Initiative aligns with the department’s broader Youth Employment Works strategy. Launched in March 2023, the initiative centers around a “No Wrong-Door” approach that supports policies, partnerships and techniques to provide equitable access for all young people to prepare for high-quality career paths through Registered Apprenticeship. Youth apprentices have a unique opportunity to gain critical skills, work experience, access to a career pathway and free education, often including college credit and even a degree.

“The Apprentice Trailblazer Initiative builds on the Biden-Harris administration’s strategy to empower workers by promoting pathways to the middle class through this proven earn-as-you-learn model and advances our efforts to expand equitable access to good jobs for historically underserved communities,” Acting Secretary Su added.

The first cohort of Apprentice Trailblazers will focus on youth, ages 16-24, and recent youth apprenticeship graduates. Serving as an Apprentice Trailblazer is a professional development opportunity for apprentices and apprenticeship graduates. Participants will have opportunities to enhance their leadership and teamwork skills with opportunities for networking and mentorship.

Youth apprentices and graduates interested in becoming Apprentice Trailblazers are encouraged to discuss with their Registered Apprenticeship sponsors and submit an application to become an Apprentice Trailblazer. Sponsors of youth apprentices and graduates are welcome to apply as well. The application deadline for the first cohort is Sept. 30, 2023.

Apprentice Trailblazers will join the 303 Apprenticeship Ambassadors to collaborate with the department to champion and promote Registered Apprenticeship. The department plans to announce the first cohort of youth Apprentice Trailblazers during National Apprenticeship Week, Nov. 13-19, 2023.

When enacted in 1937, the National Apprenticeship Act became the foundation that advanced work-based learning in U.S. Since then, the nation has seen the apprenticeship system evolve, expand and diversify while helping millions of apprentices obtain good quality jobs in numerous industries, including construction, advanced manufacturing, transportation and more recent additions such as clean energy, healthcare, education and cybersecurity.

Read more about the Apprentice Trailblazer Initiative.

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