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By Bethaney Lee

This year, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is inaugurating Youth Apprenticeship Week (YAW), a fresh perspective on the enduring success of Registered Apprenticeships (RAs) and its ability to seamlessly bridge the gap between education and employment.

YAW piggybacks on the notoriety of its predecessor National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) which successfully has been endorsing the power of RA for nearly ten years, after first being announced in 2015. YAW — the new, week-long event — represents a new commitment by the DOL to highlight the value and potential of RAs for young Americans, ages 16-24.

The broadened focus includes not just celebrating these programs but actively engaging youth, educators, and employers across various industries.

Beginning in only four days — May 5 to 11 — youth from across the nation will be engaged in the efforts of hundreds of RA Programs that have announced events and opportunities to interact with others in the RA network. The DOL and its numerous partners have organized a multitude of activities, including career fairs, workshops, and informational sessions, aiming to provide comprehensive insights into the apprenticeship model and its relevance to the current job market.

Throughout the week, pre-selected daily themes guide the activities, starting with a focus on engaging parents and guardians on Monday, and moving through themes that address myths about apprenticeships, increase RA awareness, highlight opportunities for underserved communities, and culminate in a national signing day for new apprentices. 

While the themes emphasize the importance of awareness and direct engagement with apprenticeships, they also display the diverse industries involved, from manufacturing and healthcare to IT and public service. The events will serve as platforms for stakeholders—employers, labor unions, educational institutions, and apprentices themselves—to share their experiences and the benefits of apprenticeships. 

For those interested in participating or learning more, the DOL provides resources and support for hosting or attending events, making it easier for communities to get involved and promote the success of their RA Programs.