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IA Apprenticeship Program Touted as Career Launching Point

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According to the Urban Institute, Iowa's expansion of registered apprenticeships for 16- to 24-year olds led to 4,500 new apprentices between 2016 and 2019. (Adobe Stock)
According to the Urban Institute, Iowa's expansion of registered apprenticeships for 16- to 24-year olds led to 4,500 new apprentices between 2016 and 2019. (Adobe Stock)
June 30, 2020

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Iowa is one of only a handful of states to push for a statewide apprenticeship program. And a non-partisan research group says it has shown effectiveness in putting young adults on a path toward a career in various trades.

Future Ready Iowa was established in 2016 and matches high school students with participating companies for training before these students even receive their diploma.

Zach Boren is senior policy program manager at the Urban Institute, which is partnering with state and federal officials in expanding the program. He said it's a good option for teens who aren't sure yet about pursuing college.

"It's a really positive message about meeting the needs of business that need workers in particular areas that students may not particularly know that there's these opportunities to get into these jobs," Boren said.

In addition to plugging the talent hole for certain industries, Boren said their national research shows an apprentice can earn $70,000 a year, on average. In Iowa, those who completed training earned an average of $9,000 more than their peers as their careers started.

He said there still are some challenges in seeing growth. That includes offering a wider range of occupations, while enhancing recruiting to attract more diversity among students who participate.

However, Boren said some employers, such as John Deere, already have indicated they want a more diverse group of students to work with. Meanwhile, he said these programs are not meant to deter high school students from ever enrolling in college or university.

"In the current situation, where a lot of students are going to be studying from home, there may be an opportunity to take a gap year, learn a skill and get some job experience to be ready for that next step," he said.

The Institute also noted similar work being done in other states such as Colorado, Tennessee and Kentucky. In Iowa, 26 high schools operate youth registered apprenticeships.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - IA