Career Exploration, Meet Practical Application

AJAC Youth Apprenticeship


As a leader in Youth Apprenticeship, AJAC believes high school students can be better prepared to enter the workforce and in return, can develop in-demand skills for careers they are most interested in. Youth Apprenticeship fundamentally changes how young adults can contribute to the local economy while earning a paycheck, high school credits, and college credits.

What is AJAC training?

Who is AJAC?

AJAC is a non-profit apprenticeship training organization founded in 2008 by Washington State.

AJAC serves nearly 300 local employers in the aerospace, advanced manufacturing, agriculture/food processing, automation and industrial maintenance industries. AJAC currently has 400 apprentices enrolled statewide across 14 different registered apprenticeship programs.

Youth apprentice cnc machining

What Is Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeship is a combination of paid on-the-job training with college-level classes designed by AJAC to reinforce what the apprentices are learning at their jobsite. 

As paid employees, apprentices receive a paycheck from day one with periodic raises to reflect increased experience, skills and abilities. After meeting a minimum number of hours and passing a skills test, an apprentice graduates to a journey-level worker with a nationally recognized credential that he or she can take with them.

Apprenticeship benefits: classroom instruction + on-the-job-training + wage progression = skilled and certified workforce

How Does Apprenticeship Differ From an Internship?

Apprenticeships are longer term, including structured paid on the job training, college level classroom instruction, and wage increases.

Apprenticeships are geared towards hands-on learning in the real world by training under skilled professionals. They must meet industry standards to graduate to the journey-level position. 

Internships tend to be shorter term, often unpaid, unregulated, and either include college credit and no pay, or minimum wage and no credit.

Internship vs. Apprenticeship

College or Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are the original four year degree. It is simply an alternative learning method to develop the strongest skill set in the shortest amount of time.

The strongest lure for new apprentices is getting paid to learn without student debt.

Apprentices receive specialized, on-location instruction that colleges weren’t designed to provide. Having their skills verified and validated by an official program gives employees a huge advantage in the crowded job market.

The program pushed me to ask more questions because initially, I had a hard time asking questions or asking for help in certain areas. Knowing that I can do it, I became more confident in my abilities over time.

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Youth Apprentice

Raquel Taijito

Production Technician (Youth)

Tool Gauge

Washington State

Who Is Involved?

AJAC has partnered with several school districts, local advanced manufacturing employers, community and technical colleges, and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) to offer Washington State’s first registered Youth Apprenticeship program for the advanced manufacturing industries.

AJAC Classes for automation technician occupation

How It Works

AJAC has developed 3 pathways for prospective students interested in participating in the next school year. These options provide flexibility to our school districts, students, and employers for different levels of engagement.

  • Option 1: Bootcamp
  • Option 2: AJAC Classes
  • Option 3: Apprenticeship
Goals and outcomes

Goals & Outcomes

AJAC’s Production Technician and Automation Technician apprenticeship programs are a two-year commitment which include 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training from industry professionals coupled with three quarters of tuition-free college (15 credits). Apprentices will work 10-20 hours per week during the school year, and full-time during the summer at an AJAC participating employer.

Youth Apprentices must submit their resume, letter of recommendation, official transcript, online application and be hired by the employer prior to apprenticeship enrollment.

Upon completion of the program, Youth Apprentices will receive:

  • AJAC certificate of completion
  • Nationally-recognized journey-level certification from L&I
  • OSHA-10 certification
  • First-Aid/CPR certification