During the past few years, the popularity of apprenticeship programs has decreased to some degree. The nation’s youths have decided to enroll in college or universities, while others have opted to immediately join the workforce. Nonetheless, it is no secret that businesses and consumers can benefit enormously from apprenticeship programs. Idaho Power is one of the many companies, which encourage apprenticeships. The company initially implemented apprenticeship programs in 1954 to keep up with the need for a skilled workface and to decrease turnover.

According to the company’s HR professional, Shawna Potter, there is a completion rate of over 90% with their programs. And, they have over 600 graduates. Idaho Power sees an annual turnover rate of less than 3%, which speaks to the effectiveness and value of the apprenticeship programs. It is no secret that many people learn more effectively through a hands-on manner. And, businesses find such arrangements to be advantageous, because they allow them to more thoroughly educate their workers.

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It was recently announced that the Idaho Department of Labor would expand their apprenticeships with a 1.4 million dollar federal grant. The grant will be utilized to add apprentices in a few key sectors, including energy, advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and information technology. At this point in time, Idaho has approximately 1,000 registered apprentices and the state will attempt to increase that number by 20% by the end of next year. While 80% of the current apprentices fall into the construction category, the state is home to nearly 400 registered programs.

The majority fall into traditional trades, but there are a few that reside in the IT, childcare and healthcare sectors. The state had received a 200,000 dollar grant earlier this year to help develop a strategy to bolster their apprenticeship offerings. A large portion of the 1.4 million dollar grant will be used to pay industry associations to help businesses fill out the required paperwork. The United States Department of Labor State Director, Bill Kober, is adamant that Idaho should have 5,000 apprentices, which is much larger than their current number.

The Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, recently spoke during the National Apprenticeship Week. He admitted that bordering states were growing, while Illinois has been left stagnant. Rauner complained that the state’s budget was never balanced and that the state always seemed to spend more than they were able to bring in. Some of his solutions are involved with education and training programs, including apprenticeships. More importantly, Rauner admitted the state needed regulatory reforms.

Rauner made it clear his Cabinet on Children and Youth task force would begin working diligently to expand the apprenticeship programs in Illinois. While apprenticeships might not be suitable for everyone, they may very well be the best solution for many of America’s youths. Those that are interested in signing up should be able to find more opportunities in the near future.

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