Officials with Governor Branstad’s administration say they hope to double the number of registered apprenticeships with Iowa employers over the next five years, part of their goal to get more Iowans into post high-school training and education.
Under the program, trainees are paid to learn a trade or other job skills.
Eighteen-year-old Josh Smith is working for Mid-American Energy while learning welding at Central Campus High School in Des Moines.
“The chance to get on-the-job training and getting paid while I learn is something students all should have,” Smith said.
Smith spoke at a statehouse news conference as part of Apprenticeship Appreciation and Awareness Week.
“I started welding when I was younger,” Smith said. “I got into it because my grandpa was a welder.”
Iowa’s Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds is traveling the state this week, encouraging more young people like Smith to sign up.
Her itinerary includes a stop at the state prison in Anamosa, where offenders are holding down apprenticeships.
“The training received while incarcerated will lead to a productive life after being released from prison,” Reynolds says.
She says Iowa is a leader in the program.
“We have three percent of the country’s registered apprenticeships, and one percent of the population,” Reynolds said.
The Branstad administration hopes to double the number of apprenticeships with the help of a nearly $2 million U.S. Department of Labor grant.
Officials say more than 8,000 Iowans are working in registered apprenticeship programs statewide.
Iowa has added about 100 registered apprenticeships programs each year for the past three fiscal years.