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DPS Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week

Nov. 13, 2020
 
Student on the computer

Join us in celebrating the Sixth Annual National Apprenticeship Week! We are so proud of all of our DPS students who are apprenticing at Denver metro-area businesses in Education, Advanced Manufacturing, Information Technology, Financial Services, Business Operations and Hospitality.

The Career and College Success Youth Apprenticeship Program, in partnership with CareerWise Colorado, was founded in 2016 and is first of its kind in the United States. Grounded in the comfort and support of their high school, apprentices are simultaneously earning their high school diplomas and steady wages, while having the potential to earn industry credentials and debt-free college credits through the process.

The Apprenticeship Program has proven to be a strong example of preparing students for life after high school, making sure they are ready for in-demand careers and successful habits for college. “I have more experience, more knowledge and more confidence than I would ever have had without the opportunities it has given me these past few years,” says Angela, a business apprentice who completed the three-year program in 2020.

Apprentices who have gone on to pursue a post-secondary education feel they are more prepared to succeed and choose an area of study because of their time as an apprentice. Byonce, a business apprentice and the first in her family to go to college, is now a student at UNC Greeley. She shared how her outlook on school has changed: “Before, I was someone who failed classes. Now I know I can reach out to my professor. Other people still write emails like they’re texting. I know in my classes I’ll be professional. I have so much now before my first year of college. What I’ve learned here will change how I come at anything professional in the future. I don’t know what’s coming at me, but I know that I can handle it.” 

DPS has a deep commitment to the apprenticeship model and has one of the leading apprenticeship programs in the country. After our first cohort of 21 students completed their apprenticeships in June 2020, we now have 56 apprentices currently in the program– 13 are in the final year of their apprenticeship, 29 are in their second year and 14 are in their first year. As expected, COVID-19 impacted the ability of companies to hire apprentices last spring, but we and our business partners? are looking forward to a new hiring cycle beginning in spring 2021.

Due to COVID-19, the apprenticeship program had to make a shift to virtual work for the majority of apprentices. Students displayed their flexibility when they made the transition to both remote learning and remote working. They’ve developed new sets of skills to adapt to this new virtual environment, including time management, self-advocacy, and demonstrating professionalism through virtual meetings and emails. “During these past few months in the remote environment I have learned to improvise, adapt, be disciplined and stay focused. I have been able to continue working smoothly after we began quarantine, and even had the opportunity to work with multiple teams throughout the company. Even though we are virtual, it’s almost as if we were still working in the office,” says Ricardo H., an apprentice at Pinnacol Assurance.

Larry H., an apprentice at Delta Dental, shared, “I’ve learned how to be smart with my time when working on multiple projects at once. I’ve been motivated by my family to work harder all around during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Other apprentices have been driven by knowing their apprenticeship will have a positive impact toward their future goals, as well as being fortunate that they’re able to work and maintain a job during the pandemic while continuing to learn new skills. 

We are currently recruiting for our fifth cohort at 20 participating high schools and hope to maintain our goal of placing 50 apprentices into available Denver metro apprenticeships. If you are interested in getting involved, whether as an apprentice, as an educator who wants to support students towards an apprenticeship, or by hiring an apprentice, please complete this survey. For any additional questions, please contact emily_takimoto@dpsk12.org.

Check out the apprenticeship success stories below!

Student at an apprenticeship

Monique L., Northeast Early College Graduate

Monique recently completed the apprenticeship program with Pinnacol Assurance as an account auditor. Throughout her three-year apprenticeship, Monique worked a second job to assist at home and save money for her education.

Before entering the apprenticeship program, Monique participated in other work-based learning opportunities to learn more about what she might be interested in, including: job shadows, a career and academic mentoring program, and an internship.

By the time of her high school graduation, Monique demonstrated unparalleled resiliency and was able to earn her Associate of Arts in Business. She has continued to take college-level classes in order to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Business with a specialization in Accounting.

Most notably, the Auditing department at Pinnacol Assurance hired Monique full-time – a goal she had set for herself since she began working as an apprentice on that very team.

Monique worked against all odds to create an incredible path towards the future while growing personally and professionally throughout the process. Her growth shows in her leadership with others, ability to manage responsibility, public speaking and personal accountability.

“The apprenticeship has helped me to gain valuable experience in my desired career field. I have also had the chance to access college classes in accounting which gave me the opportunity to apply the information I was receiving in class directly into the workplace duties,” say Monique. “The apprenticeship gave me tons of training such as timeliness, networking and basic office skills that have allowed me to pave a way for myself in business and build a positive brand.”

Student writing on the board

Ricardo H., Abraham Lincoln High School (ALHS) Graduate

Ricardo is in the third year of his apprenticeship in the customer experience department at Pinnacol Assurance.

Ricardo was introduced to work-based learning opportunities as a sophomore at ALHS. He first joined a Coach Mentoring group, where he was paired with a professional from the IT industry, and learned about the best next steps he should take in order to create his career path.

From that experience, he decided to gain more hands-on learning in the industry and applied for the apprenticeship program in both IT and business. He began his business apprenticeship at the beginning of his junior year and began improving his leadership, self-advocacy and professionalism skills. “My biggest motivation at this time is the ability to learn and gain as much experience as this program can offer me so that I am as prepared and successful as I can be throughout my future career,” says Ricardo.

While the program proves to be demanding at times, Ricardo helped build a network to support him. Now, entering his third year of the apprenticeship, Ricardo is continuing to develop his skills as a young professional.

Crystal G., Northeast Early College Graduate

“When I heard that an apprenticeship was going to help you with school and…college, I knew I needed to do this,” Crystal says. “My parents didn’t have the opportunity to go to college. I took the risk, and so far it’s been worth it.”

While Crystal has successfully completed the apprenticeship program, she continues to work part-time with her employer, OIT at the University of Colorado-Denver, while completing her Bachelor of Arts. Here, she has learned professional skills, including how to use Excel, answer campus data access requests and communicate with vendors and clients.

Working alongside IT professionals has given her a completely new perspective. “It’s a very different environment than being in school with students,” she says. “I’ve learned to be more professional and communicate better with people. I feel like I have more skills, and am more capable, than I was a year ago.”

With her newfound skills, Crystal is looking beyond her final year of high school. An introductory coding course at the university sparked her interest, and now she wants to study computer science in college. She is grateful for the apprenticeship, which has presented her with a much clearer path for her future than she had when she started.

“I’ve had so many doors opened,” says Crystal, who was nominated in 2018 for the APEX Youth Tech Leader of the Year by the Colorado Technology Association. “Knowing that I’m being rewarded and recognized for my work is a huge deal for me. It feels nice to make my family proud.”

Student