Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK) is a youth pre-apprenticeship program that stands out as an innovative example of effective collaboration between the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, the Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Career and Technical Education, employers and labor to strengthen students’ career pathways and the talent pipeline.
TRACK first launched with a manufacturing pilot in thirteen high schools during the 2013-2014 school year. Since then the program has been scaled to include other schools and additional skilled trades. The program utilizes Kentucky’s existing CTE infrastructure to create a pipeline for students that begins in high school and culminates in an industry-recognized credential, paid work experience and, in many cases, advanced standing within a full Registered Apprenticeship. Employers lead the process of partnering with an area technical center to design the selection process and the four-course program of study sequence. Students that successfully complete the youth apprenticeship program can then transition into Registered Apprenticeships, other employment and/or additional postsecondary education.
Students benefit by earning a nationally-recognized credential at little to no cost while also completing their academic coursework, and employers benefit from the customizable program and supply of well-trained and interested workers.
Policy in Action
The initial pilot in manufacturing saw 100 percent of participating students transition into full time apprenticeships with partner employers, with no student debt. The pilot year also allowed the state to recognize and address challenges in implementation, including concerns about worker’s compensation liability, child labor laws, and misconceptions about apprenticeships generally.
To alleviate some of the legal barriers facing this program, the Kentucky Department of Education partnered with the human resource agency Adecco to facilitate pre-apprenticeships statewide. Encouraging employers to shape the program to their needs helped incentivize their participation as well.
In just two years, the state has doubled the number of programs, and expanded into health science fields and construction.