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VIDEO: Hickenlooper Chairs Senate Hearing on Youth Apprenticeships

Mar 12, 2024

Chair Hickenlooper: “Apprenticeships – particularly those starting in high school – are a strong pathway for students in search of a career”

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper chaired the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee’s Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety hearing on the importance of youth apprenticeships for career exploration and the best practices for starting and sustaining these workforce training programs.

“We believe that lifting up youth apprenticeship programs will also lift up the entire system for the next generation of American workers,” said Hickenlooper, Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee’s Subcommittee on Employment and Workforce Safety. “It’s the rising tide that will lift all boats.”

Hickenlooper was joined by Ranking Member Mike Braun, and witnesses Steve Day, Principal at Cherry Creek Innovation Campus, Wesley Patch, Process Excellence Specialist at Vestas Americas, Brad Rhorer, President & CEO of Ascend Indiana, and Denise Tugade, Former Member of the California Youth Apprenticeship Council.

During the hearing, Hickenlooper and the other senators asked questions about strengthening the partnerships between unions and youth apprenticeship programs, how Hickenlooper’s Youth Apprenticeship Advancement Act would help expand existing programs, and the impact of youth apprenticeship programs on bringing apprenticeship opportunities to a whole new generation.  

“The Youth Apprenticeship Advancement Act provides opportunities and critically-needed funding for school districts and employers to work together to build apprenticeships while they are still in high school and in an effort to set them up for a lifetime of high wage, high skill and high demand employment,” said Steve Day, Principal at Cherry Creek Innovation Campus. “This will enable more students to take advantage of apprenticeships, creating a bridge to the workplace and to a career which can be forged into a lifelong pathway of purpose for our youth.”

“Advanced Manufacturing companies in Northern Colorado are struggling to find enough skilled workers to hire in this competitive job market today. This is where the youth apprenticeship program becomes a valuable asset…” said Wesley Patch, Process Excellence Specialist, Vestas Americas. “If The Youth Apprenticeship Advancement Act is passed it will allow more businesses to give opportunities for our youth to be paid to learn and gain knowledge for better stronger skilled workforce in the future.”

“The union apprenticeship model has long been an established successful path for workers to gain skills on-the-job, quickly integrate into the field, build connections in the industry, and allow apprentices to be paid while receiving their training…” said Denise Tugade, Former Member of the California Youth Apprenticeship Council. “Having all of the stakeholders–youth and youth-serving organizations, labor, employers of youth, K-12, community colleges, and intermediaries at the table together much like today can help bring down red tape.”

Hickenlooper has been a longtime champion for youth apprenticeship programs. As governor, he jump-started CareerWise Colorado, a nonprofit designed to create statewide apprenticeship opportunities to prepare students for high-paying, competitive jobs at Colorado companies. Recently, Hickenlooper introduced the bipartisan Youth Apprenticeship Advancement Act to expand and advance youth apprenticeships by creating a competitive federal grant to support training programs for apprentices ages 16-22. 

He previously chaired senate hearings exploring how to utilize Artificial Intelligence to empower America’s workforce and how apprenticeship programs prepare workers for the 21st century economy.

In February, Hickenlooper’s office hosted two webinars for Colorado stakeholders who are interested in federal opportunities to support workforce development and apprenticeship programs. The webinars specifically focused on the Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act, the National Apprenticeship Act, and Hickenlooper’s Youth Apprenticeship Advancement Act.

For a full video of Hickenlooper’s opening remarks, click HERE.


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