As Iowa’s economy continues to grow strong, a new term is becoming increasingly prevalent in the conversations about preparing students for the workforce: “Skills Gap.” For many of Iowa’s industries, the education and training that students receive during high school, and even from colleges and universities, doesn’t prepare them for many of the technical jobs that are available for students today. In order to help meet this demand, Gov. Terry Branstad’s “Goal 2025” stresses the need to parlay Iowa’s nationally-renowned high school graduation rate into an equal increase in degrees and credentials by 2025.
Registered Apprenticeship Programs are one such route for students looking to enter the workforce after high school while still finding the long-term financial benefits of a credential or degree without the demands of student loan debt. A national movement to recognize the benefits of Apprenticeship Programs and encourage students to take a closer look at what such programs offer is taking place November 1-7 during National Apprenticeship week. Iowa’s Registered Apprenticeship Program offers many options for students looking to help bridge the “skills gap” and be part of a thriving workforce.
Registered Apprenticeship is a proven system for training employees in a variety of occupations that require a wide range of skills and knowledge. Combining supervised on-the-job learning with technical related instruction in subjects related to the apprentice’s chosen occupation, Registered Apprenticeship offers a way to meet the demands of Iowa’s growing workforce while providing students of all ages a training that allows them to start earning a living right away.
Registered Apprenticeship is highly active in traditional industries such as construction and advanced manufacturing and is also instrumental in the training and development of high demand industries such as healthcare, energy and information technology. The “Earn and Learn” training model provides a unique combination of structured learning with on-the-job training from an assigned mentor in one of more than 1,000 apprentice occupations, with new occupations being added. Related instruction, technical training or other certified training is provided by apprenticeship training centers, technical schools, community colleges and/or institutions employing distance and computer-based learning approaches.
Upon completion of a Registered Apprenticeship program participants receive an industry issued, nationally recognized credential that certifies occupational proficiency and is portable. In many cases, these programs provide apprentices with the opportunity to simultaneously obtain secondary and post-secondary degrees.
Programs are operated by both the public and private sectors. A sponsor may be employers, employer associations and labor-management organizations. Recently, community colleges and workforce development centers have collaborated with business and industry to develop Registered Apprenticeship programs through sponsoring employer-participation agreements.
For more information on Iowa’s Registered Apprentice Programs, visit Iowa Workforce Development’s website.