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Youth Apprenticeships Move Forward In Indiana, Despite Pandemic Challenges

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Justin Hicks / IPB News
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The trend towards youth apprenticeships in Indiana is continuing despite challenges from the pandemic as a program in northern Indiana recently received $500,000 to continue paid career training for high schoolers. 

CareerWise Elkhart County was the first modern youth apprenticeship program in the state, launched in 2019. This fall, students in Indianapolis will also start paid apprenticeships while completing high school.

Both place 11th graders with paid jobs at local companies. They spend roughly half the week working at a local company and learning career skills instead of traditional school.

Breanna Allen is the director of student pathways for Horizon Education Alliance, which runs the Elkhart apprenticeship program. She said COVID-19 made it difficult to recruit apprentices from schools last year without in-person classroom visits and parent nights. Meanwhile, employers were eager for apprentices to fill holes in their workforce and committed to hosting an apprentice. The combination means they still have about 20 open spots in the program.

“We didn’t quite expect that piece,” Allen said. “Which is why we have so many open positions and have such a large number of positions.”

Youth apprenticeships have garnered bipartisan support from the current federal and state administrations.

Contact reporter Justin at jhicks@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @Hicks_JustinM.

Justin Hicks has joined the reporting team for Indiana Public Broadcasting News (IPB News) through funding made available by (IPBS) Indiana Public Broadcasting Stations. Justin will be based out of WVPE in his new role as a Workforce Development Reporter for IPB News. Justin comes to Indiana by way of New York. He has a Master's Degree from the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University. He previously earned a Bachelor of Music Degree from Appalachian State University where he played trumpet. He first learned about Elkhart, Indiana, because of the stamp on his brass instrument indicating where it was produced.