You probably know what an apprenticeship is, as well their many benefits (paid training! No student debt!). But if pre-apprenticeships aren’t on your radar yet, they should be. Put simply, pre-apprenticeships are programs designed to prepare career seekers for success in an apprenticeship.
Relatively short in duration, pre-apprenticeships usually last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Those who participate in the program receive hands-on training that provides a helpful starting point for a rewarding career in the trades.
Sounds great, right? But while pre-apprenticeships have a lot going for them, they aren’t for everyone. Below, we’ll provide six compelling reasons to apply for a pre-apprenticeship, along with three reasons why such programs may not be for you.
6 Reasons to Do a Pre-Apprenticeship
Pre-apprenticeships can help you gain skills and confidence while preparing you for a high-paying career in the trades. Here are some reasons why pre-apprenticeship may be the right choice for you:
- Easier Pathway to Apprenticeship – One of the major advantages of participating in a registered pre-apprenticeship program is that it can provide individuals with an easier avenue to an apprenticeship. While apprenticeships generally aren’t difficult to find, they can be hard to get depending on where you live and how many applicants apply. By completing a pre-apprenticeship program, you can distinguish yourself from other applicants and increase your chances of getting accepted into the program.
- Explore Career Options – Still in the process of choosing a career? A pre-apprenticeship program is a great way to get your feet wet in a particular trade or industry. Do your research on the best trade jobs. Then, use a pre-apprenticeship program to get the inside scoop on your prospective career.
- Receive Credit Towards Apprenticeship – After you complete your pre-apprenticeship program, you may receive credit that counts towards your apprenticeship. This can shorten the time it takes for you to complete an apprenticeship and earn your credential.
- Access to Support Services – Pre-apprenticeships are often geared towards disadvantaged groups and therefore provide more support services to help them stay in the program. For example, pre-apprenticeships may provide free childcare, transportation, and ongoing career counseling.
- Start Gaining Experience Early – Are you still too young to apply for an apprenticeship program? If so, consider applying for a pre-apprenticeship that focuses on youth, such as YouthBuild and Job Corps. These programs can serve as a launchpad for apprenticeship and other career-related opportunities.
- Learn in a Safe and Supportive Environment – It’s no secret that trade work tends to be male-dominated. If you’re a woman who is interested in pursuing a career in the trades, a pre-apprenticeship is a great place to learn the ropes and boost your confidence without the pressure to “prove” anything. These days, there are plenty of pre-apprenticeship programs specifically for women (see: Oregon Tradeswomen Inc. and Chicago Women in Trades).
3 Reasons a Pre-Apprenticeship May Not Be for You
There is no requirement that says you must complete a pre-apprenticeship before participating in an apprenticeship program. Here are a few reasons you may want to skip the pre-apprenticeship altogether:
- You’re Already Familiar with the Trade – Maybe you’ve been doing carpenter work with your pops for years. In that case, you probably know what the work is like and possess the fundamental skills you need to succeed as an apprentice.
- You Want a Guaranteed Paycheck – Unlike apprenticeships, which are essentially paid training programs, pre-apprenticeships don’t guarantee you a paycheck. If going a few weeks or a few months isn’t doable for you, get in touch with the program manager to see what your options are.
- You Want to Jump Right into Apprenticeship – If you meet the qualifications of the apprenticeship program and feel confident in your application, there’s no reason why you can’t apply for an apprenticeship immediately. If you end up having trouble getting into your desired program, you can always try a pre-apprenticeship to boost your chances of entry.
The Bottom Line
Whether you’re just starting your career search or looking to make a midlife career change, a pre-apprenticeship could be an excellent pathway to a rewarding career. The right opportunity can easily enhance your skills, increase your confidence, and help you gain entry into an apprenticeship program. All in all, there is little to lose and much to potentially gain from participating in a pre-apprenticeship program.
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