Business

Iowa receives $200,000 apprenticeship grant

State will use funds to boost number of programs

Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, speaks during Iowa Women Lead Change's (IWLC) launch of the EPIC Corporate Challenge at Geonetric in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Mar. 31, 2016. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Beth Townsend, director of Iowa Workforce Development, speaks during Iowa Women Lead Change's (IWLC) launch of the EPIC Corporate Challenge at Geonetric in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, Mar. 31, 2016. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

Iowa will receive a $200,000 accelerator grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to increase the number of registered apprenticeships and integrate them into education and work force systems.

Iowa Workforce Development also will use the grant to work with employers to start new apprenticeship programs, and promote greater inclusion and diversity.

“Apprenticeships are a proven path to high quality, good paying jobs,” IWD Director Beth Townsend said in a news release. “Workers earn while they learn and reduce the skills gap, and employers benefit as well.

“For every dollar spent on apprenticeship, employers receive an average of $1.47 return in increased productivity and greater front line innovation.”

The $200,000 Iowa grant is part of a $10.4 million bipartisan Congressional effort to appropriate funds specifically for apprenticeship for the first time, and double and diversify the number of apprenticeships by 2019. In fiscal year 2014, there were 6,272 active apprentices and 684 active programs in Iowa, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Many people think of construction trades when they hear the word ‘apprenticeship,’ but health care, information technology and advance manufacturing apprenticeships are growing in Iowa,” Townsend said. “We are developing a path for both employers and workers to take advantage of apprenticeship opportunities.”

According to the Georgetown Center on Education and Workforce, 65 percent of jobs in the United States over the next decade will require some level of postsecondary education — and 30 percent of those could be filled by apprenticeships.

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Apprenticeship programs combine classroom instruction and full-time employment in a student’s chosen field. Programs typically run between three and four years but can last as long as five years, depending on the skills and training required.

In coming weeks, the U.S. Department of Labor will announce the availability of an additional $50 million in grants for states looking to expand their capacity to collaborate with employers and start new apprenticeship programs across diverse industries and communities.

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