Youth apprenticeship program launches in Idaho

| October 8, 2020 1:00 AM

On Wednesday, Oct. 7, during the Governor’s Office Age of Agility Conference, Idaho Business for Education and the Workforce Development Council officially announced the start of Idaho’s first Youth Apprenticeship Program.

This project is wholly funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor in the amount of $2,490,630. This will help Idaho reach its goal of having 60% of the state’s 25- to 34-year-old workers hold a postsecondary credential of some kind, IBE officials said in a press release.

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

“Idaho Business for Education is pleased to partner with the Workforce Development Council in creation of this registered Youth Apprenticeship Program. Development of this Youth Apprenticeship Program will be a game changer for our great state. In the years ahead it will give hundreds, if not thousands of students, a clear pathway to good, well-paying careers in Idaho. 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,” said Rod Gramer, president and CEO of Idaho Business for Education.

Maureen O’Toole, IBE vice president for youth apprenticeships, said Idaho Business for Education is perfectly suited to help youth find apprenticeship due to its existing work with Idaho public schools and businesses.

“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,” she said. “The IBE Youth Apprenticeship Program is ready to help connect classrooms to careers.”

Idaho has a shortage of the skilled labor needed in high-demand, high-growth jobs. A 2019 statewide study revealed that availability of skilled workers was ranked as the most burdensome aspect of doing business in Idaho. Lack of training prior to entering the workforce reduces employee readiness to work while increasing employer training costs. We need postsecondary education and training which includes certifications, credentials and all forms of degrees from an Associate to a PhD.

Building workforce-ready labor requires a collaborative effort among government, business, and education. Youth apprenticeship does just that and provides education, work experience, and access to postsecondary education, training, and certifications. Youth apprenticeship, which supports 16-24-year-olds, promotes individual economic stability, business growth, and Idaho’s economy.