Business

Coalition aims to grow internships, apprenticeships

A Washington High School student tries out a virtual welding machine with Jeff Graham of Lincoln Electric at the Construction Apprenticeship Career Fair at Plumbers and Pipe fitters Apprentice and Journeymen Training Center in Cedar Rapidsin 2015. (The Gazette)
A Washington High School student tries out a virtual welding machine with Jeff Graham of Lincoln Electric at the Construction Apprenticeship Career Fair at Plumbers and Pipe fitters Apprentice and Journeymen Training Center in Cedar Rapidsin 2015. (The Gazette)
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A coalition of educators and employers has launched an initiative to increase work-based learning opportunities for high school juniors and seniors.

ICR Future has set a goal of creating 650 new job shadow and internship opportunities and recruiting 100 new business partnerships engaged in work-based learning by 2020.

ICR Future is part of the not-for-profit organization ICR Iowa, started in 2017 to coordinate business attraction and workforce development strategies in the Corridor.

While 16,000 students in the seven-county area served by the Grant Wood Area Education Agency are eligible for work-based learning opportunities, only one in four currently has the opportunity to pursue a job shadow or internship.

The Grant Wood AEA counties are Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn and Washington.

“Students often pursue careers they can see and experience,” Kate Moreland, career development director for ICR Iowa, said in a news release.

“Exposing high schoolers to high-demand career paths and regional employers can help increase the number of students who choose those paths for their future and also choose to stay and work in ICR Iowa as adults.”

The Workplace Learning Connection, part of Kirkwood Community College, facilitates the placement of many of the student participants. Students have the opportunity to shadow or work in a wide variety of fields, from engineering, public administration and health sciences to marketing, accounting and government.

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Shive-Hattery, an architecture and engineering firm that has participated in ICR Future for a number of years through its Iowa City and Cedar Rapids offices, has seen former interns later hired on full-time after graduating college.

“Supporting internship programs helps expose the next generation to new possibilities in STEM,” said Jenny Phan, corporate communications coordinator at Shive-Hattery. “Students are completely immersed in a professional environment and see what it’s truly like to work in the architecture and engineering industry.

“We have the opportunity to reach young women and girls and other groups that are underrepresented in STEM fields.”

High school students can learn more about the careers in which they might be interested — including requirements, salaries and pathways — and apply for work-based learning opportunities at https://icrfuture.org.

Companies interested in offering new or expanded high school internship or job shadow opportunities can visit the site for information.

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