Iowa’s workforce shortage is well-documented as one of the state’s biggest challenges. While there are many effective initiatives, including Iowa’s STEM Initiative, Future Ready Iowa, Elevate Advanced Manufacturing, Home Base Iowa and more, this issue will require all that and more to solve.

What is newer, however, is turning to an age-old practice — apprenticeships — as part of the solution to this shortage of skilled labor.

Apprenticeships have been an effective workforce training solution for centuries. At its core, apprenticeship programs combine formal classroom training, reinforcement through practical hands-on training and mentoring through the development of job skills.

What most people don’t realize, however, is how flexible apprenticeships are becoming. Formal training options range from community college programs to instruction from private training companies to a company’s proprietary training program. And some companies use a combination of all three.

The newest element within apprenticeships is the variety of industries that use it. Apprenticeships have grown from the secret sauce of the trade-industry to now include advanced manufacturing, health care, energy, transportation, value-added agriculture, technology and even winemaking.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. utility industry will turn over more than 50 percent of its workers in the next five to 10 years, so workforce development is a top priority. MidAmerican Energy, a member of the Iowa Association of Business and Industry, partners with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Locals 109 and 499 and area community colleges to provide a reality-based curriculum for apprentice line mechanics to acquire the skills they need, meet customer demands and keep safety as the top priority.

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Original article post on by Kathy Anderson on May 5, 2019