Step 1 - Intro to Youth Career Pathway Programs

Opportunity to Earn While You Learnyouth career pathways logo

  • Are 16-24 years old?
  • Would you like to get hands-on learning opportunities to get job skills?
  • Would you like to work with a mentor or career advisor to help you along the way?

If so, this program may be the perfect career training opportunity for you.  It offers a several types of hands on training such as apprenticeships and programs to prepare you for an apprenticeship or other advanced training.  


​Apprenticeship programs have been around for a long time. Traditionally these programs are thought of only for specific industries or jobs, but the mold is being broken. Apprenticeship programs are being created across industries and sectors. The 'learn while you earn' model is becoming a standard. Apprenticeship programs not only offer a non-traditional classroom learning experience but can also offer you a huge career boost.

Here are a few benefits of participating in an apprenticeship program. If you'd like to read more about Apprentice Programs, check out our other Apprenticeship articles.

  • Earn while you learn.  Apprenticeships are jobs, so you get paid from day one.
  • Get actual on the job experience.  You will get real-world experience while learning.
  • Get an education.  You may earn college credit or a degree.
  • Earn an industry recognized credential.  This usually means you will make more money.

Not ready for an apprenticeship?  You can choose other options.


These programs are designed to prepare you an apprenticeship.  These programs include: 

  • Training so you meet the minimum entry-level requirements of the apprenticeship.
  • Educational and career counseling
  • Support services
  • Hands-on learning activities to help you explore careers and teach the Essential Employability Skills so you can be successful in the workplace.
  • When you successfully complete the program, you may receive preference for enrollment in an apprenticeship.

Youth Apprenticeships  

These programs are for youth ages 16-24 who are in high school or working towards their high school equivalency.  These programs include:

  • Up to 450 hours of paid on-the-job training under the supervision of a mentor.
  • On the job experience (real-world experience).
  • At least 2 semesters that count towards a high school and/or postsecondary credential.  At a minimum, this training leads to an industry credential.
  • Support services such case management and counseling.
  • Help with applying for an entry-level job, an apprenticeship and/or admission to other a 2- and 4-year degree program when you successfully complete the program. 

Career Pathway Programs

These programs offer multiple entry and exit points while you are working toward advancing your career in a specific industry.  That means that you could enter the program if you are in high school, adult education program, or another career development program.  Different types of education providers and employers work together to offer training at the various levels.  These programs include:

  • Work-based learning experience in the work-place.
  • Career/employment plan.
  • Support services such case management and counseling.
  • Education to earn a credential or access into a 2 - 4-year degree program.

If you would like to learn more about Youth Career Pathway options, continue to the next step.

Not interested in Youth Career Pathway? Go to the Youth Resources to get tools to help you explore careers, find training, support services, and a job. The Illinois State Board of Election's Career Guide is another great resource for students, parents, teachers, and counselors to see what career opportunities are available in Illinois.