Policy: Highschool Working Apprenticeships
The Advanced Placement program is an educational program that has been around for decades. It allows high school students to sit for a more difficult class in over 30 subjects with a standardized test at the end. The test is scored 0-5 and if the student receives a 3 or better, then they could potentially earn college credit for the course. I personally took several AP courses in high school and ended up with enough credits that I was able to eliminate an entire semester’s worth or college courses, so I know just how useful the program can be.
There has been a great deal of research into the overall effectiveness of the program and a recent push to make the program more accessible to low-income students. One thing is clear though, with millions of students participating and a steady growth in the program, high schoolers want to look beyond just the walls of their building for their education.
If a student is planning on going to college to become an engineer, they could take any number of Math and Science AP tests, but they should also be able to intern for or apprentice with a local mechanic and receive credit for that. If a student wants to go into medicine, there should be routes for them in high school to shadow or observe a nurse and receive credit for that. If a student doesn’t have interest in a four year degree, but does want to go into welding or pipefitting, there should be a route for the student to advance along that career path while still in high school.
In-classroom learning is great and necessary, but having options available for hands on experience can give a student insight into whether a career field is right for them, teach them things about that field that only being there in person can, and create more enthusiasm for in-classroom learning by answering that age old question, “When am I going to need to know this?”
Creating strong relationships through apprenticeship programs can also help strengthen a community. If a student has interned on a local farm and that farmer is then thinking of retiring, we’ve increased the chance that the land will continue to be farmed by local people who know it best.
There are a huge number of potential benefits to this program and as the AP program has shown us, teenagers want to take advantage of these opportunities. By providing them, we help both mentor and student.