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November 22, 2022

U.S. Department of Labor Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week with YouthBuild USA 

Brent Parton (Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Employment and Training Administration (ETA)), Cody Ivory (YouthBuild Lake County Alum and Youth Apprentice), Cierra Mitchell (Office of Apprenticeship Division Chief), and Enrique Garcia (YouthBuild Lake County Participant)

Leaders from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) joined YouthBuild USA and participants and staff at YouthBuild Lake County to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) with a Youth Apprenticeship Town Hall.

NAW is a nationwide celebration where industry, labor, equity, workforce, education, and government leaders host events to showcase the successes and value of registered apprenticeship for rebuilding the economy, advancing racial and gender equity, and supporting underserved communities.

On Monday, November 14, nearly 175 young people and YouthBuild stakeholders participated in the town hall both in person, at YouthBuild Lake County in North Chicago, IL, and virtually. The event began with Brent Parton, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), speaking on the national landscape and the value of youth apprenticeship.

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh — a lifelong champion of equity and fairness — also provided a special video message for event attendees.

“YouthBuild is a pre-apprenticeship program that serves young people who are underrepresented in high-paying jobs,” Secretary Walsh said. “Pre-apprenticeship provides a bridge into apprenticeship for communities that have too often been left out… Now more than ever, youth career pathways are critical to an equitable economy. I want to thank you for the work that you do every day bringing opportunities to our young people and building a more just and equitable future. The Department of Labor is proud of your efforts.”

The introduction of the event made it clear that all DOL YouthBuild programs are well-positioned to equip their participants with the skills, experience, and credentials needed to succeed in apprenticeship programs.

The virtual town hall continued online with a panel of the following key YouthBuild stakeholders:

Isaias Gamboa, Apprenticeship Coordinator, Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinnati, Jake Wolfer, Prefabrication Manager, Valley Interior Systems, Mike Lawrence, Senior Workforce Director, Workforce Innovations, ICF, and Mindy Larson Crystal, Senior Manager, Professional Advancement, National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

Next, a panel of youth apprentices discussed their experiences, strategies, and considerations to help YouthBuild programs more effectively align apprenticeship to their programming. The panel included Bobbi Jones, Graduate of YouthBuild and  Boston, Xavier Kluttz, Graduate of Georgia Building Trades Academy YouthBuild.  J-D Garcia, YouthBuild USA’s Director of Career Pathways, moderated each panel.

In each of the two conversations, panelists noted that YouthBuild’s role continues to evolve in response to the needs of employers and the interests of youth participants.

“To young people considering apprenticeships, you’ll leave with portable skills and provable credentials,” said Isaias Gamboa of Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinnati.

“Apprenticeship taught me accountability. Everybody needs each other to do the job that needs to be done….YouthBuild gave me my legs to walk. I love hearing how proud they are about the goals I’m reaching,” said Bobbi Jones, Graduate of YouthBuild Boston. 

Attendees of note who joined the in-person event at YouthBuild Lake County included: Brent Parton, John Ladd (Office of Apprenticeship Administrator), Cierra Mitchell (Office of Apprenticeship Division Chief), Dean Guido (Office of Apprenticeship Regional Director), Nakeya Womack (DOL/ETA Apprenticeship & Training Representative), Victoria Cosentino (Office of Apprenticeship Program Analyst), North Chicago Mayor Leon Rockingham, and YouthBuild Lake County Executive Director Tameka Wilson.

Virtual attendees included YouthBuild program staff, DOL staff members (including Jeff Hunt, DOL YouthBuild Director; Jennifer Kemp, Director of the Division of Youth Services; and Stephanie Peña, Workforce Analyst and the town hall event emcee), and people generally interested in learning more about apprenticeship.

Thank you to the Department of Labor speakers, our youth apprentice and stakeholder panelists, and YouthBuild Lake County for helping to make this incredible event possible. 

To learn more about apprenticeship and National Apprenticeship Week, visit

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