Youth Apprenticeship

How does the youth apprenticeship program work?

Apprenticeships have helped workers train for careers working in high demand occupations for hundreds of years, primarily in the trades. Several US states have established youth apprenticeship programs that have been successfully operating for many years. Through the support of the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship, Reach Higher Montana has launched a program for Montana students. This partnership was established in 2019 with funding and support from the Partnership to Advance Youth Apprenticeship.

Youth apprentices get structured on-the-job training (OJT), related training and instruction, wages, industry-recognized credentials, and direct access to jobs and careers. Employers, in turn, obtain highly trained employees and increased productivity and may be able to better retain employees.

Like any apprenticeship program, participating students will be hired by an employer who will provide paid, on-the-job training; students will complete defined related technical instruction with financial assistance from their employer to pay for these classes; and students will earn pay increases as they progress through their training schedule and demonstrate competency attainment.

Are you a Montana business interested in hiring youth apprentices?

Click here for contact information.
See Employer FAQs

reverse-icons-resource-video.svg The Benefit of Apprenticeships

reverse-icons-resource-video.svg 2023 RHM Youth Apprenticeship Students

Are you a Montana student interested in a youth apprenticeship?

Click here for contact information.

Student FAQs

Here are some common questions from students about a youth apprenticeship program. If you have additional questions, click here for contact information.

Yes, an apprenticeship is a real job! It’s also a work-based training program that includes an educational or classroom instruction component, and a hands-on paid job training component. If you are accepted into the youth apprenticeship program and hired by an employer, you will be an employee of that employer.

Many people use the words “internship” and “apprenticeship” interchangeably, however the two are different with different kinds of experiences.

An apprenticeship provides paid on-the-job training along with classroom learning that typically spans three years. The length of the apprenticeship ensures that the training received prepares the apprentice to step into a position and become a productive employee.

A typical internship will expose students to a work environment for a short period of time and most often does not include pay or substantive work experience.

Typically juniors and seniors are eligible to participate in youth apprenticeships. Our age requirements are ages 16-24. Some employers have minimum age requirements for certain occupations, however.

We work statewide to provide youth apprenticeship opportunities in Montana.

Apprenticeship programs range from one-year to up to three-year commitments from both the student and the employer.

Your high school schedule may be adjusted to accommodate the college courses you will be taking. Your high school counselor will work with you to ensure you meet all of your academic goals and that you are on track to graduate with your high school diploma.

This will depend on your schedule. Becoming a youth apprentice requires a serious commitment of time, effort and energy. You will be working for your employer during the academic year and then during the summer. In addition to regular high school classes, youth apprentices take a specific sequence of college courses each semester over the course of two years. The program is designed for motivated students interested in gaining work experience, on-the-job training and in-classroom instruction. The demands of the program are significant, but so are the rewards.

Your related classroom instruction will take place either in person or online from a recognized institution awarding your particular certification. 

Apprenticeships are designed with the intention of successful, long-term employment.

Yes. All youth apprentices will earn college credits or a portable certification as part of the program.

Yes. Students who are homeschooled can apply for the youth apprenticeship program.

Youth apprentices who successfully complete the program will receive:

  • Paid employment and mentoring from an industry professional
  • College credit from a local post-secondary institution free of charge during the apprenticeship
  • College credit that may be applied toward a degree
  • Industry recognized credential(s)
  • Paid work experience
  • Marketable skills for life

Employer FAQs

Here are some helpful frequently asked questions to provide more information about the youth apprenticeship program. If you have additional questions, click here for contact information.

Apprenticeship is a proven education and workforce strategy that combines paid, structured on-the-job training with related, classroom learning. A youth apprenticeship is a structured, work-based learning program designed to start when apprentices are in high school. High-quality youth apprenticeship programs are built on partnerships that include employers, high schools, and providers of postsecondary education, most often a community college.

High-quality youth apprenticeship programs include the following four core elements:

  • Paid, on-the-job learning under the supervision of 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

Youth apprenticeship is a great way to develop a pipeline of talented, engaged and loyal employees. Studies have shown that youth apprenticeship programs bring re-engagement of the current workforce, development of management pipeline and increased energy in the office. You will see positive return on investment as you shift from being consumers of talent to producers of talent!

The host employer pays the apprentice an hourly wage for time worked (at least minimum wage), and commits to increasing the wage as the apprentice develops and demonstrates expected competencies as defined by the employer.

The host employer provides a contribution toward the cost of the apprentice’s educational expenses. 

These services are included in the business participation fee.

  • Student Recruitment and Education Liaison
    Working with local schools to identify best candidates, facilitate scheduling, apprentice advising, etc.
  • Training Plan Development and Launch Services
    Working across education providers and industry standards to develop a high-quality training program relevant to both employer and apprentice; apprenticeship registration and cost reduction support.
    The MYAP facilitates the process, helping education partners and employers co-design the training program needed to meet the skills/credential requirements.
  • Apprentice and Employer Training
    Providing workshops and trainings to ready apprentices, supervisors and mentors
  • Ongoing Program Support

Yes. Vetted applicants (ages 16-24) will be matched with an employer. The employer will interview and hire the youth apprentice.

The apprenticeship programs can be a one to three-year commitment from both the student and the employer.

No. However, to help with program costs, there is various funding available for those apprenticeships that are registered.

If your business desires to have its apprenticeship program(s) participate in the Montana Registered Apprenticeship Program, Reach Higher Montana will, upon your request, serve as the “sponsor” for registration. As a sponsor, Reach Higher Montana will complete the registered apprenticeship paperwork, maintain the required apprenticeship records, and serve as the Montana Department of Labor and Industry’s primary contact for the program. 

Reach Higher Montana is a 501(c)(3).

You can hire as many apprentices as you need. Some employers may choose to hire just one apprentice per year, but other employers may choose to hire a cohort of apprentices each year. The number of apprentices is flexible to your needs.


Apprenticeship vs. Internship — Learn the differences between the two!

Improving Youth Apprenticeship Data Quality – Challenges and Opportunities addresses the most urgent youth apprenticeship data quality challenges and describes the roles that state leaders, local intermediaries, and education and employer partners can play in improving the quality and use of data. It also identifies high-impact strategies for using youth apprenticeship data to advance quality and equity.

Montana Work-Based Learning Myth vs. Fact — Montana has one of the strongest economies in the nation. At the same time, thousands of jobs go unfilled as Montana businesses struggle to find qualified candidates with the right skills. This document addresses common concerns and perceived barriers to hiring youth in the workplace.

Work-Based Learning Playbook — developed by the Montana Department of Labor & Industry
If you are running a business of any kind, you need talent, and it is often hard to come by. This easy to read playbook will give you the information and resources you need to take advantage of work-based learning.

Connect with us today!

    Gabrielle Eklund Rowley, Director, Montana Work-based Learning Collaborative
    [email protected]
    (406) 422-6809

    Jason Butcher, Outreach Director, Reach Higher Montana
    [email protected]
    (406) 366-0777