Youth Apprenticeship


What is a Youth Apprenticeship?

Wisconsin’s Youth Apprenticeship program, sponsored by the Department of Workforce Development, integrates school-based and work-based learning to provide students with employability and occupational skills. Students are taught by qualified teachers and skilled worksite mentors to prepare for careers while still in high school, developing the technical and specific job skills required by Wisconsin industries.

What are the Student Benefits?


What are the Employer Benefits?

Help Build a Qualified Future Workforce…

The state Youth Apprenticeship program, sponsored by the Department of Workforce Development, helps students prepare for careers while still in high school, developing the technical and specific job skills you and other community employers are looking for.


Employer Involvement?

Student Selection

Reviewing student employment applications, interviewing candidates and selecting the student(s) they wish to hire.


Work-Based Training

Providing youth apprentices a minimum of 10 to 15 hours of work per week during the school year. Students must complete a minimum of 900 hours of work for a two-year program and 450 hours for a one-year program. Child labor laws limit a student’s work hours to a total of 26 hours per week while school is in session, but any hours worked during the school day as part of the Youth Apprenticeship Program do not count toward this total. Employers are encouraged to continue employment during the summer months.



Paying youth apprentices the minimum wage or higher. A pay schedule is agreed upon by the employer, the local consortium, and the youth apprentice. Most employers grant periodic raises dependent upon performance or length of employment.


Workers Compensation

Providing worker’s compensation coverage (or comparable liability coverage in agricultural programs).


Training Agreement

Signing the agreement, along with the student, parents, and school district before the student begins working. The agreement outlines expectations and responsibilities for each party, the rate of pay, and the length of employment for the youth apprentice.

Training to State Standards

Providing training in the areas identified by the skill competency checklist provided by DWD. These competencies are developed by industry experts to reflect the skills needed by Wisconsin businesses.



Providing a mentor for each youth apprentice to assist with training. Additional details on the role of the mentor are covered later in this booklet.


Organized Labor

Including organized labor representatives (as applicable) in designing and operating the program at the worksite. The program may not impinge upon existing labor agreements, although agreements may be modified to reflect mutually agreed upon policies and procedures for the youth apprentices.


Job Performance

Reviewing, evaluating and reporting on a youth apprentice’s job performance approximately every nine weeks to ensure they are learning the required competencies. Mentors are expected to participate in progress reviews with the apprentice, school personnel and the parent(s) on a regular basis.


Child Labor Laws

Agreeing to abide by all state and federal child labor laws and regulations that apply to minors in the workplace. Information on relevant child labor laws is covered later in this booklet.

Frequently Asked Questions?

Question:    Will the student do productive work?

Answer:  Yes. After appropriate training youth apprentices become productive employees of the company. However, since they are rotated throughout different departments they will require more training time than other employees. It is important to remember the youth apprentice is there to learn many skills and should not be assigned to one job the entire time.

Question:    If the student fails their related class, can I continue his/her employment?

Answer:  Students are required to complete all requirements for high school graduation and to pass all related youth apprenticeship classes. If they fail the class or are failing in other classes, they can no longer participate in the program, including the work hours.

Question:    Will I have to spend my entire time at work teaching the student?

Answer:  No. Youth apprentices need to be closely supervised and may require more training than the average adult but you are not required to “shadow” the youth apprentice. A supervisor or mentor should be in the general area with a youth apprentice at all times.

Question:    How much paperwork is required?

Answer:  Employers are required to sign an Education/Training Agreement at the beginning of the program. During the program, employers are asked to verify the youth apprentices’ skills on the job by filling out a skills checklist. At the end of the training time, the employer signs the checklist and sends it to the local coordinator to submit to the state office so that the student can receive their state certification.

Question:    What costs will my business incur through this program?

Answer:  There are no costs to the employer other than the wages paid to the youth apprentice and to the mentor while they are training the youth apprentice.


Question:    Will I have to treat the youth apprentice differently than my other employees?

Answer:  Youth apprentices are expected to follow the company’s work rules (e.g. dress code, behavior, discipline, etc.) just like other employees. However, it is important to remember that high school students have limited work experience in an adult setting. Patience and guidance are required while they learn responsible work habits and rules of conduct. Part of the mentor’s role is to help the student avoid problems in the workplace and to contact the local coordinator if there are problems.

Question:    What happens if I can not provide all of the skills required by the state at my business?

Answer:  In order to successfully complete the program and receive a Certificate of Occupational Proficiency, a youth must demonstrate the proficiency level specified in the Youth Apprenticeship Program Skills Checklist. If your business does not provide the full range of skills needed for certification, the local youth apprenticeship coordinator may be able to arrange for these skills to be provided by another company. This arrangement should be discussed with the coordinator before you hire the youth apprentice.

Question:    What if the student is not working out or consistently violates the work rules?

Answer:  Youth apprentices are hired by the participating business and are expected to follow the same work rules and requirements as other employees. If for some reason they do not comply with the rules, an employer may terminate the youth apprentice’s employment. Employers are encouraged to meet with the school coordinator to try to resolve the problem before taking this step.

Question:    If I have any questions, who can I call?

Answer:  Call your local youth apprenticeship coordinator if you have any questions or any problems with the youth apprentice.