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Building Bridges for Our Students through Apprenticeships


We tried something new at CAST Tech recently. That’s not new – we see ourselves as a place for experimentation within the public schools, and when something works, we share with anyone who will listen.


For the past few years, we’ve been working with the City’s Ready to Work team, particularly Mike Ramsay and Joshua Scott, to figure out if we can more intentionally build a connective bridge to apprenticeships in our city.


We agree with these leaders that apprenticeships, where young people can earn a salary, and pay increases, tied to their training, are a very important option for those who may feel the need to begin earning a living immediately after they graduate from high school.


We’re proud that CAST STEM High School, in Southwest ISD, has sent the greatest number of students to the Texas FAME program for advanced manufacturing for the past few years. Students get hired by an employer such as Toyota or Toyotetsu and work 30 hours a week while completing a degree at St. Philip’s College.


But we’ve learned these past few years, as we’ve held assemblies and talked to students about this learn-to-earn model, that we have a lot of work to do just to explain what an apprenticeship is.


So we held a panel of employers, students in relevant jobs, and the city last week. I was encouraged at how many questions were asked, and how many students stuck around to ask more after the panel ended. One of the students who came down to ask was Adel Leza, who has done two IT internships with CPS Energy. He fell in love with the company, and now wants to pursue an electrical apprenticeship and return to them in a different capacity.


Adel, like all of our students, has his own unique path to walk. 


At CAST, we recently were awarded a national grant through the Catalyze Challenge to support this work with apprenticeships, one of a small cohort doing innovative work in the career-connected space. Because we believe in modeling what we ask others to do, at CAST we hire student interns, and this coming year we will hire two apprentices from our schools, one in data analysis and the other in project management. If you are an employer, who like CAST, sees this model as a valuable way to grow local talent, I hope you will join us in this journey – let us know if you have apprentice positions we can share with our students, and we hope to see you at the upcoming Senior Hiring event!


Jeanne Russell

Executive Director

CAST Schools


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The Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Network is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. CAST Schools are partnership schools with a focus on STEM careers, project based learning and work-based learning. Key partners include public school districts, higher education institutions, and local employers from target industries.