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Idaho receives a $2.5 million federal grant for apprenticeship programs

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 19:34:23-04

This article was originally published by Kevin Richert in Idaho Ed News.

Idaho’s student apprenticeship efforts will receive a $2.5 million cash infusion.

The state Workforce Development Council and Idaho Business for Education Wednesday announced a statewide Youth Apprenticeship Program. A U.S. Department of Labor grant will fund the program.

The goal will be to better link high school students with employers who are looking to groom workers.

“We are excited to partner in an initiative that will give all of Idaho’s youth more opportunities for success,” Workforce Development Council Executive Director Wendi Secrist said Wednesday.

Apprenticeships were a central theme earlier Wednesday, when Gov. Brad Little delivered a keynote address for a Workforce Development Council-IBE summit on the future of work.

“The reality is, Idaho employers desperately need skilled employees,” Little said.

Even in the middle of a pandemic, he said, Idaho businesses are hiring — or they want to hire. In the summer, the state surveyed businesses, and 78 percent of respondents said they had tried to make a hire since the spring.

The coronavirus pandemic triggered a statewide stay-at-home order and a dramatic increase in jobless claims through the spring. But since then, the state’s unemployment rate has dropped back to 4.2 percent, the third lowest in the nation.

Without going into detail, Little hinted at the new apprenticeship effort, based on existing programs in communities such as Sandpoint, Weiser and Boise. While he acknowledged the value of school extracurricular programs, Little also touted the value of linking students to the workplace.

“And businesses are screaming for it,” Little said.

About 400 people attended this year’s annual “Age of Agility” summit, which was held virtually.