Learn more about JFF
Learn more about JFF

Building Partnerships, Ecosystems, and Intermediaries

Apprenticeship programs span both education and workforce systems and exist within broader community service ecosystems that share the goal of promoting economic resilience and social well-being. Successful youth apprenticeship programs typically rely on networks of partners—schools, community colleges, youth-serving organizations, labor unions, workforce agencies, opportunity youth-focused intermediary organizations, and employers among them. Foundations and community-based organizations can also play important roles. Underpinning all programs are either state apprenticeship agencies or the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship, depending on whether the state or federal government is responsible for registering particular programs.

Partners help in a variety of areas—from recruiting and training to support and industry engagement—and their roles can change over time. Moreover, intermediary organizations may emerge to provide apprenticeship services and supports for particular sectors or demographic groups and serve as hubs for broader collaboration.

Apart from sharing responsibility for the services and supports that apprentices need to complete high-quality programs and move on to careers, partnerships can also boost program resilience. Programs with strong networks of partners can adapt more readily to changing circumstances (such as budget cuts) than standalone programs, and they’re likely to be more innovative because no single organization has to go it alone and be the sole source of new ideas.

Programs serving opportunity youth through the AEMF effort have employed three primary strategies as they seek to increase and improve apprenticeship opportunities for disconnected young people in their communities. Click below to read more about each strategy and find out how they look in action.




Guiding Questions

What specific need(s) are you trying to address for your program?

  • What does industry need?
  • What do opportunity youth need?
  • What community problems exist for which opportunity youth apprenticeship is a solution?
  • What data supports your analysis?

What capacity (people, programs, resources) exists within your own organization or current networks that can help advance your goals? Here are some examples to consider:

  • Strong employer partnerships (even if they aren’t focused on apprenticeship or opportunity youth)
  • Knowledge or experience with apprenticeship (even programs that are not focused on opportunity youth or within your target industry or community)
  • Flexible resources (that might be used to support needs that opportunity youth may have outside of apprenticeship programming)

Which community stakeholders can take on critical roles? Such roles include:

  • Identifying and recruiting employers, industry partners, and program sponsors
  • Identifying and recruiting apprentices
  • Designing, accrediting, and implementing programs
  • Training workplace mentors
  • Providing wraparound services to apprentices and workplace supports for employers
  • Administering programs—including developing standards, registering programs, providing case management and tracking, evaluating programs, and managing finances
  • Funding the effort

What benefit does your program offer to prospective local workforce partners?

  • Are there aspects of apprenticeship development or operation that enable your program to serve in an intermediary capacity?
  • Does your program solve a specific challenge or fill a service gap?

What apprenticeship programs are already open to or serving opportunity youth? What do their partnerships look like? What needs remain?

What intermediary organization, if any, currently focuses on opportunity youth and has an existing network of opportunity youth programs and services?

Who anchors, or has the capacity to anchor, opportunity youth apprenticeship programs? How might you support them?