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Bowser Administration Celebrates Apprenticeship Signing Day, Inspired by Obama’s Reach Higher

Monday, May 1, 2023
Signing Day Kicks Off DC Youth Apprenticeship Awareness Week

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Bowser Administration and District of Columbia Department of Employment Services (DOES) announced the start of 2023 DC Youth Apprenticeship Awareness Week. The week of events will begin with Apprenticeship Signing Day, on Monday, May 1 at 11:00 a.m. Signing Day introduces District youth to available apprenticeship opportunities and encourages employers to offer the prospective apprentices signed letters of intent to hire.
“Earn and learn opportunities are pivotal is connecting youth to sustainable employment, and Apprenticeship Signing Day recognizes those young Washingtonians who are committing to joining the workforce through registered apprenticeship sponsors that will develop them into qualified and high-skilled talent to fill roles in high demand industries,” said DOES Director Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes.  “The Bowser Administration has expanded the apprenticeship model in Washington, DC, and District youth are thriving. Today marks the beginning of financial freedom for another class of young Washingtonians who are taking advantage of opportunities for high-quality job training that lead to careers of the future.”
There are more than 320 apprenticeship sponsors (employers and trade unions) are registered with the District and provide apprenticeship training to more than 850 District residents across all eight wards. The Apprenticeship Signing Day event will showcase testimonials from youth apprentices, apprenticeship sponsors, and representatives across District government. Modeled after Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative and College Signing Day, District Government uses the same fundamentals to reach young Washingtonians with Apprenticeship Signing Day.
Since 2014, cities across the nation have hosted events to advocate for the importance of post-secondary education and apprenticeship opportunities. Reach Higher exposes students to college and career opportunities; helps them understand financial aid eligibility that can make college affordability a reality; encourages academic planning, summer learning opportunities, and supports high school counselors who can help more kids get into college.
Selected high school seniors from Ballou STAY Senior High School, Cesar Chavez Public High School, and IDEA Public Charter School, Eastern High School, Luke C. Moore High School, and McKinley Technical High School will sign letters of intent with Independent Electrical Contractors – Chesapeake Chapter, Mid Atlantic Carpenters Union, and Cityworks DC.
The Office of Apprenticeship, Information, and Training (OAIT) at DOES provides oversight of the apprenticeship system in the District of Columbia. OAIT safeguards the well-being of apprentices, ensures the quality of programs, and provides integrated employment and training information to sponsors, employers, and trainers.
OAIT will host a series of events during DC Youth Apprenticeship Awareness Week, from Monday, May 1 – Friday, May 5. Community, apprentices, and families are invited to attend a Community Chat & Chew session on Wednesday, May 3, and apprentices will participate in a Youth Apprenticeship Shadow Day on Friday, May 5. This year’s apprentices will hear from previous apprentices, current instructors, and sponsors to have a comprehensive overview of the program's benefits and opportunities.
Last year, as part of the District’s investment into strengthening local youth apprenticeship programs, DOES granted high quality, structured and innovative registered apprenticeship programs funds to develop, implement and/or expand existing or new youth apprenticeship programs for 80 District out-of-school youth, ages 18 to 24. The District of Columbia’s Out-of-School Program is supported by the U.S. Department of Labor as part of over $11.67M in awards.
The Department of Employment Services (DOES) is the District’s lead labor, workforce development agency, and is responsible for providing District residents with critical employment readiness and job training services. To learn more about apprenticeships, programs and services offered at DOES, and for more information on becoming an apprenticeship sponsor, visit or