OCDE college and career initiative builds registered apprenticeship program

CTE student in Health Sciences
(Courtesy of OC Pathways)

Throughout California, businesses, labor organizations and career technical education programs — including OC Pathways — are collaborating and investing resources to ensure quality jobs for students and youth entering the workforce.

In recognition of National Apprenticeship Week, the Orange County Department of Education’s college and career readiness initiative is joining industry leaders and organizations to expand apprenticeship courses for learners, creating talent pipelines while supporting the economy and underserved communities.

National Apprenticeship Week 2023 logo

Through Nov. 19, the U.S. Department of Labor is highlighting registered apprenticeship programs that help build a “Superhighway to Good Jobs” while featuring graduates who achieved career success following their job-shadowing experiences. 

In alignment with OCDE’s vision of Orange County students leading the nation in college and career readiness, and Gov. Newsom’s statewide goal to create 500,000 apprenticeships by 2029, OC Pathways recently launched its own apprenticeship program approved by the U.S. Department of Labor. The countywide consortium plans to bring paid, work-based learning opportunities to a greater number of students and youth ages 16 to 24 in Orange County.

The OCDE-led program collaborates with local school districts, colleges, universities, businesses and regional occupational programs to increase work-based learning options for students from kindergarten to college through industry certifications, early college credit courses, internships and apprenticeships.

“OC Pathways has an amazing opportunity to represent Orange County through the K-16 Regional Education Collaborative and a recently earned California Apprenticeship Initiative grant,” said Kathy Boyd, OCDE’s director of career education. “By establishing youth and non-traditional apprenticeships, we can build employment pipelines that will contribute to our regional economy.”

Expanding non-traditional career pathways

The program will work alongside community organizations to offer apprenticeship opportunities across five non-traditional industry sectors, thanks to funding from the Regional K-16 Education Collaboratives Grant and the California Apprenticeships Initiative. From business management, education, engineering and healthcare to information and communication technology, each sector will enroll seven apprentices. 

Student apprentices are trained by employers while earning wages and acquiring industry certifications that help ease their transition into the workforce. Through a blended model of related supplemental instruction and on-the-job-training, high school juniors to college-age learners can develop technical skills that increase their employability. 

In addition to partnering with local businesses Spyder Lab and CyberForward to offer job-shadowing positions for students, OC Pathways’ goal is to expand the program to feed career pipelines to industries that are currently facing employee shortages. The program aims to make high-demand career sectors accessible for all students by prioritizing training opportunities in industries like information technology and healthcare. 

“This collaboration between education and industry can help provide pathways to successful careers for all students in Orange County,” Boyd said.

Local businesses, educators and families interested in getting involved with the OC Pathways’ work-based learning and apprenticeship opportunities can visit ocpathways.com