Greene County to pilot apprenticeship program

“By far and away the best opportunity we’ve ever had to keep our young people here” is how Greene County Development Corporation director Ken Paxton described a federally funded apprenticeship program Greene County will pilot for the state.

Paxton explained the program to the Jefferson city council as part of his quarterly update at the July 25 council meeting. The program is already available in 12 states, he said, and when the Reynolds administration looked for a county in which to pilot the program, Greene County rose to the top.

He said a meeting last week was attended by staff from the federal and state Departments of Labor, other agencies and local employers. The program links potential apprentices among high school and community college students, as well as veterans in Home Base Iowa, to the recruiting efforts of local industries and businesses.

Employers will develop the apprenticeship programs and write job descriptions. Federal and state agencies will assist in filling the apprenticeships and pay for all training costs. The local employers will pay only wages for the apprentices.

Because Greene County employers are relatively small, GCDC will serve as an umbrella agency and will do all the grant writing needed. “We’ll be the conduit that links the federal and state agencies with our local businesses,” Paxton said. “The state and federal agencies will then, in turn, connect with our high schools and junior colleges, our veterans and Home Base Iowa, and general recruiting. It’s a pretty big project.”

Paxton said another meeting is scheduled for the middle of August with key employers and school officials. He said that when students return to school there will be a list of available jobs in the apprenticeship program.

All apprentices in the program will receive community college credit for the training they receive.

“The assets that come out of this program are significant,” he said.

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