Romer: An apprenticeship, vocational ed are valid pathways to success |

Romer: An apprenticeship, vocational ed are valid pathways to success

Figuring out what you’re going to do when you finish school can be overwhelming. But, through youth apprenticeship, you can see how combining education and career today can put you on multiple paths to success.

Whether you’re on your way to college, directly jumping into a career, or both, or simply aren’t sure, an apprenticeship can help pave the way to a successful future.

The high price of a college education and the time associated with obtaining a bachelor’s degree are prompting people to seek alternatives to a four-year education. In fact, Gallup has found that four in 10 working college graduates say their work doesn’t require a degree.

Vocational education can have more positive outcomes than an associate degree education with respect to workplace outcomes and overall satisfaction. As more postsecondary institutions are grappling with the changing demographics of students and meeting 21st-century workforce needs, programs that offer specific career or vocational training may be a viable option. Given the short time frame for completion of a vocational school program, students can take more specialized courses in their field of study that directly ties into their prospective field of employment.

A great option in Eagle County

Locally, we’re fortunate to have the CareerWise apprenticeship program which gives local students an options multiplier.

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Too many young people enter college without an understanding of how higher education can further their career goals (or even what their career goals are). Apprenticeships such as those provided by CareerWise here in Eagle County help shape ideas about careers while building transferable skills.

“Modern youth apprenticeship works for every kind of student and businesses across every sector,” said Noel Ginsburg, CareerWise founder and CEO. “The model that we’ve built here in Colorado creates multiple paths to career success for young people and drives productivity for businesses.”

In 2018, more than 70 Colorado businesses made an investment in young people in their communities by hiring CareerWise youth apprentices. 

“Industry data tells us which occupations and pathways are relevant to today’s workforce needs and which will be growth areas in the future — so Colorado’s modern youth apprenticeship system is highly responsive to real hiring pain-points,” Ginsburg said. “And, because the three-year apprenticeships put students on a direct path to be able to fill these roles, businesses realize an ROI as apprentices gain skills and apply them to their work.”

Each apprenticeship occupation — in pathways including financial services, information technology, advanced manufacturing, business operations, and health care — is designed to lead to a high-paying, high-growth career.

“Our young people are driving productivity for their employers, getting paid for their work, and accruing valuable experience and debt-free college credit,” Ginsburg said. “CareerWise youth apprentices are already impacting 21st-century businesses in Colorado; their contributions are changing the way industry thinks about developing talent in a new economy.”

Those completing apprenticeships gain meaningful work experience, industry certifications, debt-free college credit, and an established professional network. And, they have options: convert the apprenticeship into a high-demand position in their industry, or continue their higher education or both. Apprenticeship is not a diversion from higher education — it’s a rigorous education option that combines theoretical learning with practical learning that focuses on career and education objectives.

Locally, in our second year, we have 10 businesses engaged, four apprentices currently working and we are offering 15 additional apprenticeships. Over 80 applications for these positions were received — showing great demand from employers, and great recognition from students that vocational and apprenticeships are a pathway forward to a successful career.

Chris Romer is president and CEO of the Vail Valley Partnership, the regional chamber of commerce. Learn more at

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