New youth apprenticeship program launched in Idaho

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IDHAO FALLS — Idaho now has a youth apprenticeship program connecting young people to education and training through a nearly $2.5 million grant fully funded by the U.S. Department of Labor.

The purpose of the program, administered by Idaho Business for Education, is to help students gain skills and meet the demand for skilled labor throughout Idaho.

IBE is a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization of businesses across the Gem State.

“In the years ahead, (the program) will give hundreds, if not thousands of students, a clear pathway to good, well-paying careers in Idaho,” Rod Gramer, president and CEO of IBE, said in the news release. “These successful apprentices will not only be able to support themselves and their families, but they will also help support the economic prosperity of our state.”

IBE will team up with the Workforce Development Council, an independent office under Gov. Brad Little, to administer the program, which is geared toward people between the ages of 16 and 24.

“This effort is key to the future of work in Idaho,” said Wendi Secrist, executive director for the Workforce Development Council. “We are excited to partner in an initiative that will give all of Idaho’s youth more opportunities for success.”

The overarching goal for IBE is to promote and support students getting a postsecondary credential, whether it be a college degree, a certificate or an apprenticeship, Eastern Idaho Program Manager Roger Plothow told EastIdahoNews.com.

The apprenticeship programs can last from anywhere from six months to years, and Plothow said the new program would connect interested participants with employers. The apprentices will be paid at least minimum wage throughout their training, and the new program will help with extra costs, like child care, while the apprentice completes a program.

“A 2019 statewide study revealed that availability of skilled workers was ranked as the most burdensome aspect of doing business in Idaho,” according to the IBE news release. “Lack of training prior to entering the workforce reduces employee readiness to work while increasing employer training costs.”

The study shows that 60% or more of the jobs in Idaho will require a post-secondary credential by the year 2025. As of 2019, only 42% of the workforce hold such a certification, according to IBE.

Plothow said that the program is in the early work with apprenticeships likely starting at the beginning of 2021. In the meantime, Plothow is working on getting the word out to potential companies who can offer apprenticeships and to students to build the program.

“Apprenticeship creates a partnership between employers and education for young employees to step into a job with a strong training and mentoring program while filling a skill gap for the employer,” Maureen O’Toole, IBE Vice President for Youth Apprenticeships, said in the news release. “The IBE Youth Apprenticeship Program is ready to help connect classrooms to careers.”

Those looking for more information on the new youth apprenticeship program, including offering up employment as through a registered apprenticeship in eastern Idaho, can contact Plothow at rplothow@idahobe.org.