San Joaquin County high school students will be the first in the state to take part in the new Apprenticeships Reaching Career Horizons (ARCH) program, a first-of-its-kind apprenticeship program for high school students in California.
In the ARCH program, students can earn college credit while receiving on-the-job training in paid positions as registered apprentices while still attending high school. Previously, only pre-apprenticeship programs have been available to California high school students. The first six students from three high schools took part in a virtual signing ceremony with state and local leaders on Thursday, Nov. 12, to kick off the new program.
“When these six students put their signatures on the documents that officially began their apprenticeships, it marked an important first step – not just for the students about to embark on an exciting career path, but to all the future students who will be able to become paid apprentices while still attending high school,” said Troy Brown, San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) associate superintendent of student programs and services. “This program would not have been possible without the strong collaboration of partners at the state and local level dedicated to providing career opportunities for students while preparing a highly skilled workforce that is vital to California’s economic future.”
ARCH was created through a California Apprenticeships Initiative Grant from the California Community College Chancellor’s Office awarded to the SJCOE. Other state and local partners essential to the ARCH launch include San Joaquin County WorkNet, San Joaquin Delta College, the Division of Apprenticeship Standards, Partnership for Advancing Youth Apprentices (PAYA) with New America, and participating school districts.
Partners as well as other state and local officials participated in the Zoom signing ceremony, scheduled to coincide with National Apprenticeship Week. Students from the SJCOE, Ripon Unified School District, and Linden Unified School District signed the papers that will officially register them as apprentices with the State of California. The first six students are in the process of being hired by their respective district’s information technology (IT) department.
The statewide program is available for students pursuing careers in IT, automotive mechanics, home health aides and logistics technicians. Employers are being sought to provide opportunities for more students in these fields. The apprenticeship program may grow to include other occupations.
“High school students will have access to Delta College curriculum that is directly related to the real-world work experience they will receive as apprentices,” Delta College Superintendent/President Dr. Omid Pourzanjani said. “Upon graduation from high school, each student will be prepared to continue their on-the-job training as an apprentice while completing their remaining instruction. Altogether, this is a wonderful opportunity for high school students throughout our service area.”
The ARCH program is open to juniors or seniors ages 16 and older attending participating high schools. Recruited by their CTE (career technical education) teachers or counselors, the high school apprentices will work part time with employers while enrolled in community college courses aligned with the pursued occupation. Participating school districts in San Joaquin County will receive grant funding to help offset the costs of coordinating the student apprenticeships in exchange for agreeing to hire student apprentices within their school district or find private employment for these students.
“Registered apprenticeship is the gold standard of work-based training. Welcoming California’s first high school students to become registered apprentices is a fitting way to celebrate this National Apprenticeship Week,” said John Dunn, assistant secretary for apprenticeship and worker training at the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. “Apprenticeships offer a path to rewarding careers for a diverse workforce and are an effective way for employers to develop talent. This new program will take us closer to reach the Governor’s goal to develop 500,000 new apprenticeships in the state over the next decade.”
The first six ARCH students are: Aaron Drumm and Cristian Soto (Linden Unified School District); Carter Lacey and Luke Ruba (Ripon Unified School District); and Seven Galvez and Teri Wilson (SJCOE).
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s life-changing,” said Teri Wilson, a senior at the SJCOE’s one.Dream Academy.
She doesn’t know exactly what she wants for her career at this point in her life, but she knows the apprenticeship will give her options.
“We never know what the future is going to be,” Wilson added. “But if I know about computers, I’ll be fine.”
The key component of an apprenticeship is the employer. ARCH is seeking employers in San Joaquin County who are interested in starting an apprenticeship program in the following sectors: information technology, automotive mechanics, home health aides, and logistics technicians. Interested employers can contact Pam Knapp, SJCOE director of college and career readiness to learn more at email@example.com.
National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) is a nationwide celebration that offers leaders in business, labor, education, and other critical partners a chance to express their support for apprenticeships. NAW also gives apprenticeship partners the opportunity to showcase their programs, facilities, and apprentices in their community. NAW was established by the U.S. Department of Labor to celebrate the impact apprenticeships have in helping Americans learn skills for jobs in growing industries. For more information, visit apprenticeship.gov/NAW.
San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) provides educational leadership, resources, and services to support schools throughout the county. For more information, visit www.sjcoe.org.