From the Desk of Director Durham: Apprenticeships

From the Desk of Director Durham: Apprenticeships

Hello, I’m Debi Durham, Director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority.  It’s no secret that Iowa needs more skilled workers.  A 2014 report on Iowa education and workforce trends through 2025 finds that 68 percent of all Iowa jobs are expected to require post-secondary education and training beyond high school.  In fact, the goal of the Governor’s Future Ready Iowa initiative is calling for 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce to have this education and training by 2025.

The Future Ready Iowa initiative focuses on ways to continue building Iowa’s talent pipeline, and one proven method to increase skill sets is through Registered Apprenticeship programs.  IEDA is pleased to work with a number of Iowa partners such as Iowa Workforce Development, to promote the value of Registered Apprenticeship to both employers and employees.

To that end, the Iowa Apprenticeship Program was created through the 2014 legislative passing of the Iowa Apprenticeship Act.  The program, administered by the Iowa Economic Development Authority in collaboration with the US Department of Labor, is designed to increase the number of registered apprentices in Iowa by providing training grants.

A Registered Apprenticeship is an employer-driven model that combines on-the-job learning with related classroom instruction.  It’s a flexible training strategy that can be customized to meet the needs of the business.  It’s also an earn-while-you-learn model as apprentices are paid while learning on the job.

Each year, through the Iowa Apprenticeship Act, $3 million is made available to applicants that have a Registered Apprenticeship program through the Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship. These are non-competitive grants, meaning that all eligible applicants will receive funds to help reimburse training costs based on the number of apprentices they have.

Last year, grants were awarded to recipients from over 500 Registered Apprenticeship programs in Iowa, representing 5,464 apprentices, but we’d like that number to grow.  There are so many benefits employers can realize through an apprenticeship program – increased worker knowledge, worker retention and a stable and reliable pipeline of qualified workers. It is a win-win for all involved.  As economic development professionals, you can be influential by helping to educate the businesses in your region about this very effective method to grow your skilled worker base.

If you’d like to learn more details about the training grants, what it takes to create a Registered Apprenticeship program or become a Registered Apprenticeship sponsor through the Department of Labor.

I encourage you to contact IEDA project manager, Jill Lippincott at 515-348-6159 or via email at [email protected].

Let’s grow Iowa’s skilled labor base together!

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