Develop a Competitive Program for Youth Apprenticeship in Texas

The state should provide competitive grants to local Texas communities for the development of youth apprenticeship programs to serve non-college-bound Texas youth.


Background
While Texas schools struggle to prepare the state s children to succeed in higher education, the state also must address the needs of non-college-bound Texas youth. Failure to provide these students with meaningful skills will cost the state productivity a nd competitiveness and undermine the self-sufficiency of the people of Texas.

Nationally, about 50 percent of high school graduates attend college. The remainder move directly into the workplace. 1 In the past, these young adults could succeed in high-demand jobs with the basic skills and knowledge they had acquired in high school. Today, they find themselves unprepared to compete in a job market where specialized skills and technical knowledge are required for most high-wage jobs. 2

Texas will feel the effects of an underprepared work force more than many other states because of our diverse population. The state s minorities, particularly Hispani cs, recent immigrants and the physically challenged, all are especially at risk for difficult entry into the job market. 3 A 1988 report by the W.T. Grant Foundation, The Forgotten Half: Non-College Youth in America , emphasizes the need to prepare all Americans to participate in the political, economic, and social fabric of our society. 4

In many European countries, apprenticeship programs have succeeded in preparing teens to compete for jobs and in providing business with a skilled and competent work force. 5 Germany s apprenticeship program is frequently cited as a model, particularly because of its success in linking education and the labor market through formal ties between schools and businesses. 6 German apprentices typically train for three years, attending school one day each week and working the remaining four days. The trades include cabinet makers, bookkeepers, police, machinists, television repairers and many others. The majority of the count ry s youth enter the labor market through the apprenticeship program. 7

Austria, Sweden, Switzerland and France all have apprenticeship programs designed to respond to the rapidly changing demands of the labor market. 8 The apprenticeship programs in all the European countries concentrate on preparing teens to assume the full responsibilities of adulthood. The programs stress gradual increases in the individual s skill level and workload, and close cooperation between the employer and the school. Apprenticeship programs are designed to meet the diverse needs of students, as well as the needs of employers. 9

In contrast to the well-established European systems, apprenticeship programs in the United States enroll only a quarter of a million people per year (about 0.3 percent of the work force), more than half in the construction trade. Apprenticeship programs i nclude mostly white males, despite the fact that U.S.-born white men will comprise only 15 percent of new labor force entrants in this decade. 10 American apprenticeship programs also are not geared to teens l ike the European programs; the average age of American program participants is over twenty-five. 11

As a result, individual states are beginning to experiment with youth apprenticeship models. Arkansas established a youth apprenticeship program in 1991. Washington, Rhode Island, Minnesota and Virginia are studying the idea. Boston s unions placed 900 students, 70 percent of whom were referrals from high schools in apprenticeship programs in 1989 under the Boston Compact agreement. 12 California, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Oregon and Wisconsin have recently received planning grants for apprenticeship programs from the U.S. Department of Labor. These states are working on a statewide youth apprenticeship model that could be repeated in all 50 states. 13

Oregon enacted a law in 1991 that establishes the nation s first statewide apprenticeship program for students who don t want to go to college. Under the plan, all high school students are required to demonstrate competence in math, science, reading and other academ ic courses by the tenth grade. At that point, they would choose between a college preparatory or job training curriculum.

Arkansas legislation, enacted in 1991, sets up five to seven youth apprenticeship sites funded by $3 million in state grants on a competitive basis in business sectors critical to the state s future among them health, machine tooling and entrepreneurship. The Arkansas model conforms to the widely held view that apprenticeship programs are most successful when they are developed at the local level to meet the particular needs of a community. 14 Applicants to the Arkansas program are local consortia of employers, unions, high schools, colleges and universities that match the grants with local funds.

At a minimum, an apprenticeship program should provide participants with work experience and learning opportunities. A well-structured apprenticeship program would also include a linkage between secondary and postsecondary components of the program leading to a high school diploma, postseconda ry credentials and certification of occupational skills. Finally, an apprenticeship program should integrate academic and workplace experiences through an ongoing collaboration among schools, employers, unions and other key institutions. 15

In addition to coordinated initiatives involving many participants, state agencies and private companies could establish their own apprenticeship programs. For example, the Comptroller s office has implemented a High School Apprenticeship Program. 16 The goals of the program are to hire economically disadvantaged students and provide them with skills and relevant work experience to enable them to find employment and encourage them to continue their education. 17

The Comptroller s program provides an opportunity for 12 students to participate every four months. Agency supervisors have been encouraged to keep students the full year if the students performance is acceptable. The pay is $6.19 an hour, or $544 per month, for a 20-hour work week. The compensation includes all st ate benefits available under the classification of seasonal, part-time employees. The students are employed in areas where the Comptroller has critical needs and which provide valid training for a career beyond high school (computer programming, print shop work, etc.).

A number of federal legislative proposals have been introduced over the past several years that would promote youth apprenticeship programs. The new federal administration has expressed a commitment to improving the job prospects of America s youth through programs such as apprenticeships, with plans to spend as much as $1 billion over the next four years. 18

A critical, competitive factor in the 21st century will be work force skills. If Texas is to prepare its youth for the workplace of the next century, then the state must take action now to ensure a skilled work force.


Recommendations
A. The Legislature should mandate that the new Texas Commission on Commerce and Labor develop a youth apprenticeship grants program to encourage local c ommunities to establish youth apprenticeship programs. (See separate recommendation in another part of this report on the new Commission on Commerce and Labor).

The grants would be available to local consortia of employers and educational institutions and would fund development and implementation of apprenticeship programs in local communities. The programs should emphasize strong employer commitment and involvem ent. They should target youths, completing the tenth grade by means of a three-to four-year pr ocess connecting high school and the first year or two of postsecondary training. They should also provide high-quality, supervised learning opportunities for students at the worksite. Students should gain a thorough understanding of their industries rathe r than simply being used to perform a single task.

The programs should use competency-based measures to evaluate student progress, provide both academic and occupational credentials, provide access and support to non-traditional groups and explicitly ad dress issues of diversity in society and the workplace. The industries and occupations selected should offer entry-level jobs with good opportunities for career advancement into high-skill, high-wage jobs.

B. The Legislature should create a Youth Apprenticeship Advisory Committee that represents employers, unions, high schools, colleges and universities and other interested parties to advise the Commission on Commerce and Labor on the program s development.

Once the program is developed, the agency should dissolve the single advisory committee and the new Commission on Commerce and Labor should assume responsibility for the program.

C. The Legislature should allow the first year of the biennium for planning the program implementation and offer five $1 million grants from general revenue in fiscal 1995.

The grants should be subject to annual renewal. The Youth Apprenticeship Advisory Committee should be responsible for advising the agency on grant specifications, criteria and performance measures.

D. State agencies should consider implementing youth apprenticeship programs that would help the transition from high school to the workplace and help state agencies train their future work force.

The experience at the Comptroller s office is proving that state agencies can play an integral part in assisting the youth of our state. The Comptroller s program is designed to introduce young people to the workplace, help them explore career options and provide them with an opportunity to develop a wide range of valuable skills.

The Comptroller s model could be expanded to other state agencies and could provide a valuable contribution in the state s effort to develop the work force of the future.


Implications
Developing local apprenticeship programs in Texas would prepare the state s youth to function in the workplace of the future and provide business with a skilled labor pool, while at the same time alleviating many of the state s social problems by increasing the self-sufficiency and self-respect of its citizens.

Two major factors that affect the Texas criminal justice system are education and jobs. It is generally the lack of one or the other or both that influences criminal activities. Youth crime is on the rise making it important to address the need for educati on and jobs among youth in Texas.

Increasing dependence on public assistance is also related to lack of employment and education. Improving the ability of Texans to provide for themselves and their families would decrease public assistance expend itures and improve child-support collections for the state, and would prevent many Texas children from falling into the cycle of poverty and dependence.


Fiscal Impact
The proposed youth apprenticeship program would cost $5.1 million per year to provide grants to local consortia. If national legislation is enacted, funding may become available for national grants or matching funds. The program would require two FTEs to p rovide the staff work necessary to develop the requests for proposals, to work with the advisory committee, and to manage the grants.


Grants
From General Increased Cost to
Fiscal Revenue Administrative General Revenue Change in
Year Fund 001 Cost Fund 001 FTEs

1994 $ 0 $115,000 $ (115,000) +2
1995 5,000,000 115,000 (5,115,000) +2
1996 5,000,000 115,000 (5,115,000) +2
1997 5,000,000 115,000 (5,115,000) +2
1998 5,000,000 115,000 (5,115,000) +2



Endnotes
1 Learning by Doing: Apprenticeship Plans Spring Up for Students Not Headed to College, Wall Street Journal (May 19, 1992), p. A1.
2 William E. Nothdurft, SchoolWorks: Reinventing Public Schools to Create the Workforce of the Future (Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1989).
3 The Forgotten Half: Non-College Youth in America, (Washington, D.C.: The W.T. Grant Foundation Commission on Work, Family, and Citizenship), 1988.
4 Ibid.
5 A Winning European Formula: Schools + Industry + Work-Readiness, Transatlantic Perspectives (Spring 1990), pp. 6-9.
6 Robert I. Lerman and Hillard Pouncy, Why America Should Develop a Youth Apprenticeship System (Washington, D.C.: The Progressive Policy Institute, 1990).
7 Nothdurft, SchoolWorks.
8 Ibid.
9 Ibid.
10 Ibid.
11 Stephen F. Hamilton, The Troubled Transition from School to Work, Human Ecology Forum (Winter 1990).
12 Ray Marshall and Rober W. Glover, Improving the School-to-Work Transition of American Adolescents, (The University of Texas at Austin, 1992). (Draft).
13 Jobs for the Future, Inc., Department of Labor Awards Grants to Six States, Student Apprenticeship News (Cambridge, Massachusetts, October 1992), p. 6.
14 Ray Marshall and Rober W. Glover, Improving the School-to-Work Transition of American Adolescents, (The University of Texas at Austin, 1992). (Draft).
15 Jobs for the Future, Inc., Essential Elements of Youth Apprenticeship Programs (Somerville, Massachusetts: National Youth Apprenticeship Initiative, 1991).
16 Interview with Theresa Pesquera, Human Resources Division, Comptroller of Public Accounts, September 10, 1992.
17 Comptroller of Public Accounts, High School Apprenticeship Program, Austin, Texas (Program Document).
18 David G. Savage, Aides say Clinton will educate the forgotten half, Austin American-Statesman (Friday, January 1, 1993), p. A1.