Does your teen have aspirations to go into the job market following high school graduation? If so, the what, where, and how questions may be percolating in his mind. An apprenticeship may be the answer that helps your teen prepare for his career or trade. This relationship is back in vogue and gaining popularity with employer and employee alike. Companies are recognizing the benefits of training their own employees, which in turn often fosters employee loyalty to that company.

A traditional apprenticeship is frequently structured with the employee working alongside a journeyman worker (his mentor) for pay during the day while going to school at night. Instruction may be received through the community college, a vocational or technical school, unions and employer associations, or on the job site. The course of study is structured to meet the U. S. Department of Labor and Industry requirements for certification. Upon satisfactory completion of the program, the employee will sit for the licensing exam if a license is required.

On the other hand, a nontraditional or independent apprenticeship may be entered into on an individual basis. Oftentimes, these arrangements can begin during the high school years. For example, if your son wishes to learn how to create Web sites, he may teach himself basic Web design and then work for an individual or company in that area to gain further expertise. Or if your daughter wants to pursue a career as a pastry chef, she can approach a local bakery about this possibility.

The first step to prepare your teen for an apprenticeship is to complete a strong academic high school program. During the high school years, he should improve his reading comprehension by reading a variety of good literature. Writing and communicating ideas in a clear and effective manner while using good grammar will be helpful tools for any career. Sounds like a solid English course, doesn't it?

Math courses are important components of your teen's high school plan. When your teen asks how algebra and geometry will help him in everyday life, you can remind him that these courses teach the importance of following rules in a logical sequence of steps. They also hone problem solving and reasoning aptitudes required for many jobs in today's economy. In addition, practical math courses such as business math or consumer math will provide valuable skills.

Computer literacy is a given! Employers will take for granted that a job applicant has a working knowledge of computer applications along with basic proficiency in software and even some hardware-related tasks.

High school history and science courses may not at first glance seem important to teens going directly into the workforce after graduation, but these courses provide them with a good foundation for their adult lives. American and world history, as well as civics or government courses, prepare students to take active roles as informed citizens. Likewise, science courses offer the basics to understand certain policy issues (such as environmental applications or life issues) that may affect the company where your teen is employed.

Along with all of these courses, consider adding a logic course. This will teach your teen reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making abilities—not a course often thought of for apprenticeships! One day these skills may help him to find a solution to a work- related dilemma.

Along with the academic preparation, there are several other ways that homeschoolers can better position themselves for future apprenticeships. Earning a Career Readiness Certificate while in high school will give your teens an additional credential to present to employers when applying for a job. Many community colleges offer this program.

High school is the opportune time for your teen to begin to create or add to a resume. Such a document gives employers a summary of his or her experience and skills. The HSLDA high school Web site lists sources that will direct you on how to construct a resume and also give you samples to use.

If your son or daughter is considering a career but is uncertain whether it's a good fit, then suggest that he or she pursue a part-time student apprenticeship while in high school. The minimum age for most federal/state registered programs is 16 years. This arrangement will provide your teen with experience and a step up for seeking full-time apprenticeships or employment following high school graduation. Some places to contact for more information about student apprenticeships are community colleges, vocational schools, individual companies, unions, and employer associations. If student apprenticeships are not available, a short-term internship in the particular field of interest may be sufficient to give your teen evidence that this is the career to work toward through a full-time apprenticeship.

As your teen looks ahead to her future goals, remind her of the importance of staying the course through high school in order to graduate and receive her diploma. Along with the diploma, a transcript is of utmost importance to show the level of study she's completed. Both of these documents will attest to her perseverance in finishing tasks and completing a prescribed course of study.

Some apprenticeship programs may require homeschoolers to obtain a GED to participate. If this is the case, we encourage you to contact the program to request that it accept your homeschool diploma and transcript. Members of HSLDA may also call our legal department for help in this regard. However, if the program continues to insist on a GED and your teen desires to enter into this particular apprenticeship arrangement, encourage your teen to prepare well before taking the GED test.

The links below provide a starting point to explore various apprenticeship opportunities. Once your teen narrows down his options, take time to investigate the possibilities and set in place a plan for him to apply for a formal apprenticeship or arrange an informal apprenticeship on his own. Whether your teen is interested in being a carpenter, chef, childcare development specialist, construction craft laborer, dental assistant, electrician, fire medic, over-the-road truck driver, pipe fitter, or computer programmer—or many more!—there are apprenticeship programs worth checking out.  

Learn More About Apprenticeships:

Federal: Department of Labor & Industry - Federal Office of Apprenticeships:  www.doleta.gov/OA

Vocational Information Center: www.khake.com/page58.html 

Occupational Information Network (info on apprenticeships, occupational skills, and careers): http://www.onetcenter.org/ladders.html  and http://www.onetknowledgesite.com/pages/onet_resources.html

State: www.doleta.gov/OA/stateagencies.cfjm 

*This article published May 7, 2010.


Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer currently serve as High School Coordinators for Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), and helped develop HSLDA's Homeschooling Thru Highschool web site four years ago. As former homeschool moms of now-grown children who have graduated from college, Becky and Diane can relate to your good times and bad! Their desire is to help you homeschool high school with excellence. Most of all, they pray that your homeschooling years are full of joy and the delight of knowing that your investment in your teens is seen and rewarded by the Lord. 

This article was originally published in the Mar/Apr 2010 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Sign up now to receive a FREE sample copy! Visit www.HSEmagazine.com today!