Blog right triangle What is CareerWise DC?

What is CareerWise DC?

In short, we are a modern youth apprenticeship program working to ensure that DC youth are set up for long-term success. We provide a solution that multiplies options for young people and provides regional employers with new ways to develop a diverse talent pipeline. 


Keeping DC’s In-Demand, High-Paying Jobs with DC’s residents

In fall 2020, City Works DC launched CareerWise DC in collaboration with the Federal City Council. The pilot cohort included 14 youth apprentices from KIPP DC, Friendship Public Charter School, and DC Public Schools and they were hired by 6 employers. We look forward to partnering with an additional 11 employers and welcoming more than 30 apprentices this fall.

We operate as a city-wide three-year youth apprenticeship program for DC high schoolers to gain hands-on skills in high-wage and in-demand occupations. Our apprentices work at companies in the skilled industries of Information Technology, Business Operations, and Financial Services. 

The Status Quo

Most young Washingtonians, especially those growing up in low-income households, have been shut out of the thriving local economy. We know that 76 percent of jobs in DC require a post-secondary credential, yet fewer than 20 percent of DC public high school graduates currently attain one within 6 years.

At the same time, many regional businesses struggle to fill their highly skilled positions. Due to an untapped local talent pipeline, companies face increased recruitment and retention costs while looking outside of the DC area for highly skilled talent. This results in a less diverse team as companies focus their recruitment efforts on traditional avenues, like 4-year institutions.

This status quo is costly for everyone involved: DC youth, employers, training providers, government and taxpayers, and the local community.

The Solution

CityWorks DC and its partners are working to solve both of these problems, lack of opportunity for DC youth and businesses struggling to find talent, by bridging the gap between industry and education with CareerWise DC. CareerWise modern youth apprenticeships align incentives for both students and businesses. 


Apprenticeships are Business-led and Student-centered

We deeply believe in equitable job opportunities for DC youth, and we are committed to making that possible by acting as an intermediary between educators, employers, and students to ensure that young people in DC are primed for success. We ensure that youth have access to high-demand family-sustaining jobs and skilled industries in the region have access to a capable and diverse talent pipeline that represents the local community. 

The History

CareerWise DC is modeled after CareerWise Colorado, founded in 2016 to address both the skilled worker shortage in Colorado and the unrealistic expectation that schools must prepare students for today’s in-demand jobs without industry involvement.

CareerWise has borrowed and adapted elements of the Swiss apprenticeship system. In Switzerland, there are 230 different apprenticeship pathways and 40 percent of the nation’s companies participate. It is a common occurrence for Swiss youth to participate in an apprenticeship. Not only do 70 percent of Swiss young people choose to do an official apprenticeship, but nearly a third of them stay on with their training company for a full-time role after they finish or return to their training company after further education. 

The CareerWise vision is a permeable system in which students and workers can move seamlessly between education and career. Students learn new skills and competencies that advance their career success and industries remain competitive with an innovative workforce.

How it Works

Our apprentices split their time between their traditional high school classroom and the workplace and earn a wage while receiving hands-on work experience.

During a three-year program, CareerWise DC apprentices develop essential skills for the future of work in our 21st-century economy — skills like advanced communication, collaboration, and innovative problem-solving. 

Learn about the benefits of a modern youth apprenticeship in this video: “What is Modern Youth Apprenticeship


A Mutually Beneficial Model for DC Businesses and DC Youth

Apprentices gain meaningful work experience, a professional network, the opportunity to earn industry certifications, and debt-free college credit. While, our employer partners gain a local and diverse talent pipeline for hard-to-fill positions, an increase in employee retention, reduced recruiting costs, and an increase in productivity.

Learn more about our apprenticeships on our How it Works page. 

We are invested in building a more robust education-to-employment pipeline. Join us in bridging the opportunity gap between DC youth and DC industry leaders!

Are you a local business or DC youth? Learn how to partner with us at the links below: