Nov. 14-20 is National Apprenticeship Week and marks the celebration of a proven and time-honored career pathway. Right now, 236 Idaho businesses sponsor apprenticeships, with more than 1,800 participating Idahoans getting paid on the job.
Like many Americans, Idahoans have seen sharp increases in housing costs while the consumer price index has risen 8.2% in just one year. Facing these circumstances, Idaho’s workforce needs competitive job opportunities now more than ever, and the state’s employers need the labor.
Many Idaho employers are discovering that finding and keeping quality workers is a serious challenge, one that affects everything from their operating hours to their ability to deliver quality customer service. There are currently about two jobs out there for every unemployed Idahoan looking for work, making it difficult for many businesses to find the talent they need to succeed.
Yet, many businesses are unaware of talent pools available to them: communities of Idahoans with talent and a desire to work. These communities include Idaho’s youth, people with disabilities, individuals exiting the criminal justice system and our veterans. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Idaho is home to more than 116,000 veterans. Many of these people, essential to the functioning of our economy, are looking for work.
At the Idaho Department of Labor, we offer a number of programs that connect veterans and other job seekers to valuable training opportunities that serve both businesses and workers.
We link qualifying Idaho veterans with the funding and support they need to start on a new career path. Many of the veterans we’ve worked with — some of them homeless — are now employed as electricians, police officers, plumbers and machinists, to name a few. Their contributions help make Idaho’s economy stronger.
Qualifying veterans can also receive their GI Bill benefits and earn wages from an apprenticeship at the same time, helping them cover the cost of everything from housing to education while they work toward a lucrative career.
Idaho apprentices who complete their Registered Apprenticeship earn a nationally recognized professional certificate. Ninety-three percent of these graduates will remain employed, broadening the workforce for the businesses that sponsor their training program.
It’s worth the effort for participants, too. An apprentice who completes a Registered Apprenticeship program earns, on average, $300,000 more in wages throughout their lifetime compared to peers who don’t complete an apprenticeship. Nationally, those who have completed a Registered Apprenticeship earn an average salary of $77,000. That’s nearly $20,000 more than the median Idaho household income, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau.
November is a good time to explore the benefits of apprenticeships for you, your family, friends or — if you’re a business owner — someone you might hire, including veterans. By tapping the power and potential of Registered Apprenticeships, we can build a productive and profitable future for our great state.
— Jani Revier is the director of Idaho Department of Labor. This piece was originally published on idahoatwork.com.