Apprenticeships While Incarcerated

The idea of getting an apprenticeship while still being incarcerated was in years past extremely far fetched. It is finally, slowly, changing. According to a 2017 article published by the Center of American Progress, “Since the 2005 corrections census was conducted, the number of incarcerated apprentices has increased by almost threefold. In 2016, more than 9,000 incarcerated individuals enrolled in apprenticeship programs.”

While most prison jobs fail to provide prisoners with transferable skills they can use once they get out, apprenticeships offer more meaningful job training. In 2018, the Federal Bureau of Prisons stated that the President had issued an executive order to expand apprenticeships in the federal prison system. Again, this is another push in the right direction.

This means that you and your loved one should be checking with the institution they are currently imprisoned at to make sure you aren’t missing apprenticeship options. Your partner’s best scenario would be something in the institution because it would give them work experience right away. You also need to be following any legislation involving more apprenticeship opportunities while incarcerated.

Apprenticeships After Prison

If there is nothing available at the prison, you can help your partner prepare for an apprenticeship after prison. The good news is there are many resources available to see what opportunities exist. A great place to start is with the trade unions.

A union apprenticeship is a registered apprenticeship that is administered by a trade union. Many different types of trade unions support apprenticeship programs to train people coming out of prison in union jobs. We have included a list of websites where you can get more information and see what opportunities exist in your area.

You will want to learn how to apply, and you may want to reach out to them to see if they have specific opportunities for individuals with records.

Many non-union apprenticeship opportunities exist and there is a website dedicated to finding those jobs. Apprenticeship Finder is the one-stop source to connect career seekers, employers, and education partners with apprenticeship resources. You can discover apprenticeships across industries, how employers start programs, how to become an apprentice, keep up on the news, and keep an eye on the type of skills that are appealing to potential employers.

What to Tell Your Partner

One of the major complaints about prison is that incarcerated individuals who have jobs in their institution aren’t receiving any transferable skills. It is a fair and legitimate complaint. As you research the above website and the union apprenticeship links we have listed below, you can get more of an idea of what kind of job skills these employers are looking for in candidates. 

If your partner is working in the dining hall, you can look at culinary apprenticeships and make sure they are listing the transferrable skills they are learning.  If they work in maintenance, you can inform your partner of the kind of skill sets needed for carpentry, electronics, plumbing, and HVAC and remind them to focus on those skills. The prison system offers very little job skill-wise but you can be a catalyst to make any work they are doing more effective.

Your recurring role of motivator comes into play again. You need to remind your loved ones that everything they are doing will be things that could land them their apprenticeship. The certificates you will encourage them to earn, and the education you will help them pursue will help. 

“Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.” — Arthur Ashe

Where to Find Trade Union Apprenticeships

This list will get you started but keep in mind that you can Google “Search Trade Union Apprenticeships” and also find thousands of options to choose from for your research. Don’t be afraid to ask any employer for more information.