Baltimore needs an apprenticeship program to help more of its youth join the workforce, according to a report from the non-profit Abell Foundation.
Graduating high school and finding jobs have been chronic challenges for young people in the city, with one out of every four public school students failing to graduate within five years, only one out of every five graduates going on to a four-year college, and unemployment among 20 to 24-year-olds at nearly 25 percent, according to the report.
But apprenticeships — which combine classroom instruction, on-the-job education and paid work and resulting in some form of professional credentialing — may be a solution. Similar programs elsewhere in the U.S. and in other countries have had success.
A program in Georgia, serving nearly 7,000 students in 143 out of the state’s 195 school systems, offers apprenticeships to high-school juniors and seniors, who then have a higher graduation rate than comparable youth. Data on the program’s long-term impact is lacking, but participation among students and employers has been on the rise and companies report that the program has been beneficial to them, according to the report.
In Switzerland, 70 percent of the country’s youth enter apprenticeships, which some use as a path to higher education.
Baltimore has existing resources that could be incorporated into an apprenticeship pilot program, including Career and Technical Education Programs in more than 40 public middle and high schools and the city-run YouthWorks program which finds summer jobs for young people, according to the report.
State legislation calling for an apprenticeship pilot program in two Maryland school systems has won support in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly this year.