Apprenticeships are an entry point to well-paid and rewarding careers, but remain out of reach for many adult learners due to factors such as skills gaps, financial resources, and family responsibilities. A growing number of adult education providers are creating pre-apprenticeship programs to help adult learners overcome barriers to entry.

A pre-apprenticeship is a program that supports individuals in developing the skills and knowledge they need to gain entry to and succeed in apprenticeship programs or other industry roles with opportunities for progression. But that’s not the only term that may be new or unfamiliar. We’ve curated a list of related terms to help inform adult education providers at any stage of development — from preliminary exploration to program refinement.

Key terms

Apprenticeship: A program that provides on-the-job training and related technical instruction, leading to a recognized industry credential. Apprentices are paid and often receive progressive wage increases as they further develop their skills. Apprenticeships may include: unregistered apprenticeships, registered apprenticeship programs as defined in section 171(b)(10) of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and industry-recognized apprenticeship programs as defined in Executive Order 13801

Apprenticeship sponsor: A single employer or a group of employers that runs an apprenticeship program, either alone or in partnership with educational institutions such as state-funded community colleges or school districts.

Bridge program: Accelerated, focused learning programs designed to prepare participants for higher education or to earn a specific degree. Higher education institutions may offer credit for successful completion.

Direct-entry relationship: A partnership that allows a successful pre-apprenticeship participant entry into an apprenticeship program or the partner employer’s workforce.

Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program (IRAP): High-quality apprenticeship programs that comply with the U.S. Department of Labor’s standards. These programs provide individuals with opportunities to obtain workplace-relevant knowledge and progressively advancing skills. IRAPs include a paid-work component and an educational component, and result in an industry-recognized credential.

Middle-skill jobs: Jobs that require education and skill training following high school or a GED program, but less than a four-year postsecondary degree.

Occupational skills: The abilities and skills needed to perform a specific job.

Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP): A program that has been certified by the U.S. Department of Labor or an approved State Apprenticeship Agency. 

Work-based learning: An educational program or activity based in a workplace, such as an internship, job shadowing, or an apprenticeship.

Workplace skills: The abilities and skills needed to succeed in the general workplace, such as communication and time management.

Workforce preparation activities: As defined in section 203(17) of WIOA, activities, programs, or services designed to help an individual acquire a combination of basic academic skills, critical thinking skills, digital literacy skills, and self-management skills, including competencies in utilizing resources, using information, working with others, understanding systems, and obtaining skills necessary for successful transition into and completion of postsecondary education or training, or employment. Workforce preparation activities are sometimes referred to as workplace skills.

Wraparound services: Support services provided for pre-apprenticeship participants, such as mental health services or childcare.

Enter the $750,000 national challenge: Submit a preliminary design for a pre-apprenticeship

To learn more about pre-apprenticeships and how they can open up opportunities to well-paid and rewarding careers for adult learners, join the virtual information session on October 15. Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) funded community colleges, correctional facilities, libraries, community-based organizations, and other adult education providers interested in entering the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge should complete a Stage 1 submission by 11:59 p.m. ET on November 25.

To receive future challenge updates, subscribe to the newsletter and follow Ed Prizes on Twitter