Apprenticeship Program

The Need 

The Apprenticeship Program, in partnership with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE), seeks to increase the number of high-quality early childhood educators. Apprenticeships are a proven career pathway and support system for individuals new to or already participating in the workforce. Paid work experience and mentorship can strengthen participants’ education, while also making it more affordable. 

The Strategy 

Federally registered apprenticeship pathways (RAP) include paid work experience, mentorship, classroom instruction and progressive wage increases while pursuing credentials or degrees. RAPs in Colorado are required to ensure their recruitment extends to all persons available for apprenticeship, abide by the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act and include a signed Equal Employment Opportunity Pledge as part of their registration with CDLE. These requirements are built-in strategies for diversifying participants. Funding flows through our three sponsor partners: Red Rocks Community College, University of Colorado Colorado Springs and Colorado Mesa University to apprentices, mentors and employers for traditional apprenticeship implementation support, as well as additional financial supports that meet the specific needs of early childhood programs. These additional supports specifically address chronic wage and workload challenges that early childhood employers experience and are not traditionally covered by workforce development funding. 

Scholarships and stipends are available for apprentices and mentors, as well as stipends for employers to cover extra costs created by participation in the program. 

Key Outcomes and Learnings 


  • Funding allowed three institutes of higher education to launch or relaunch their apprenticeship programs. 
  • As of December 31, 2023, 67 apprentices within 41 employers are working toward a credential, and 21 apprentices have completed their certificates. 
  • CDEC vendor partners are implementing innovative apprenticeship pathways that lead to multiple credential opportunities including the Child Development Associate (CDA) with a completely Spanish pathway available, Director Credential, Associate's Degree (AA) and Bachelor's Degree (BA) with teacher licensure. 
  • Effective July 1, 2023, Apprenticeship Colorado at CDLE is the registration agency for federal purposes in the state of Colorado. This transition has created a valuable opportunity in our relationship building and learning how to support early childhood-specific apprenticeship pathways. 


  • High school students participating through concurrent enrollment need to plan their schedule nine months ahead, which greatly influences scheduling on-the-job learning. 
  • School district pay schedules make the required salary increases a challenge when placing apprentices in district classrooms.

blue gear labeled workforce


Amount: $5,091,882 


  • American Rescue Plan Discretionary 
  • American Rescue Plan Stabilization 
  • Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA)
  • Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) 

Expiration: September 30, 2024

Next Steps

  • Mentor training is still being refined and conversations on the value of uniformity across sponsors continue. 
  • The success of one vendor in creating a bilingual pathway, including Spanish-language college coursework, has inspired the prioritization of bilingual resource creation and shared resources for apprentices, employers and sponsors. 
  • Stakeholders across the sector will continue to discuss instructional design and promote advocacy for continued investment in apprenticeship pathways with an emphasis on increasing the diversity of apprentices and employers. 
  • Continued partnership between our vendors and the CDLE Office of the Future of Work, where the State Apprenticeship Agency lives, will aid in design innovations to meet identified challenges.

Evidence Brief

"Apprenticeship Program" 

Butler Institute for Families, University of Denver 

(September 2023)


Project Data and Demographics


line chart depicting number of active apprentices by month

line chart depicting number of employers hosting active apprentices

pie chart depicting race reported by active apprentices

pie chart depicting primary languages reported by apprentices