Still reeling from the pandemic’s blow to jobs and the economy, the state of California is set to spend heavily on training young people who tend to have the most fragile links to the workforce: youth who’ve grown up homeless, in foster care or on probation.

In the state budget deal approved late last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and lawmakers committed $65 million to expand apprenticeship opportunities in a range of industries, from construction to restaurant work, health care and hospitality. Details are being worked out in pending legislation that will expand existing programs that offer paid apprenticeships. Those opportunities will be tailored specifically for state residents ages 16 to 24 who are low-income, foster youth, women, people of color, and the formerly incarcerated​​. 

Robert Sainz, executive director of the Montebello, California-based nonprofit New Ways to Work, called the state’s new investment in youth apprenticeships a “tremendous opportunity” for those living with the impacts of childhood trauma, poverty and growing up in government custody.