Last year Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter proposed and the 2017 Idaho Legislature approved $2.5 million in general funds to be added to the Idaho Workforce Development Training Fund, a key economic growth program administered by the Idaho Department of Labor. To make sure those dollars were spent based on industry input the governor appointed an industry-based task force to make recommendations on how the money could be used to “close the gap between the training and education Idaho job seekers have and the skills that Idaho employers need.”
Not too long ago, St. Mary’s Hospital in Cottonwood found itself in need of a medical lab scientist. After searching eight months for a qualified applicant, hospital officials worked with their local Idaho Department of Labor office to develop a registered apprenticeship program. Today the program is working so well St. Mary’s plans to set up a second apprenticeship for the same skill set.
As I meet with Idaho employers, they tell me they all have one thing in common with St. Mary’s Hospital. They need a pipeline of skilled workers with industry-specific training and hands-on experience.
Registered apprenticeships are a proven strategy for successfully building that pipeline and benefits both businesses and job seekers. Most employers see reduced turnover costs, greater employee retention, increased productivity and an average of $1.05 returned for every dollar they invest in their employees.
Apprentices benefit by on-the-job training and earn while they learn, reducing student debt. They see increased opportunities for promotion and higher wages over the course of their careers. Nationally, nine out of 10 find themselves gainfully employed at an average starting salary of $60,000 per year, and over the course of their careers, earn $300,000 more than their non-apprenticed peers.
Thanks to the collaborative efforts of Kootenai Health, Valley Vista and Northwest Hospital Alliance in northern Idaho, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) can now receive additional training essential in meeting community needs. When the need to have CNAs with advanced training as mental health assistants, as restorative assistants and as patient care coordinators was identified, these health care providers partnered with North Idaho College (NIC) to create professional instruction in these three health care specialties.
North Idaho College was given a $202,500 industry sector grant from the Idaho Workforce Development Training Fund which included $50,625 in funds from private sector partners Kootenai Health, Valley Vista and Northwest Hospital Alliance. This grant, administered by the Idaho Department of Labor, has enabled NIC to develop and implement these three training programs as well as hire instructors for each course.
Apprenticeships are no longer just for traditional trade and craft occupations like brick masons or bakers. Today’s apprenticeships have expanded to include careers in many fields such as information technology and health care.
With this change in apprenticeship opportunities comes additional flexibility for the employer as well. When an employer registers an apprenticeship in Idaho, the employer has the flexibility to customize the training and curriculum offered to help meet the company’s specific needs.
As the popularity of apprenticeships in Idaho grows, so too does the list of unusual opportunities. Here are a few of the apprenticeships the Idaho Department of Labor has recently registered.
Certified financial planner
Figure 8 Investments in Boise hired three people to apprentice as certified financial planners in May. This is the first time a certified financial planner apprenticeship has been registered in Idaho. The employer has estimated it will take about four years to complete the 4,000 – 6,000 hours of training and instruction needed before the apprentices are prepared to take the CFP exam. This apprenticeship has been set up as a hybrid which involves both on-the-job training and curriculum provided by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc.
While the number of unemployed Idahoans has steadily declined since May 2009, jobless rates for broader definitions of unemployed – such as discouraged, underemployed and marginally attached workers – improved significantly in 2016.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) identifies six measures, or categories, of unemployment rates based on varying components of the labor force – U-1, U-2, U-3, U-4, U-5 and U-6. (See Figure 1 for definitions.) In Idaho, the official unemployment rate falls into the U-3 category.
Idaho’s broadest measure, U-6, improved to No. 12 in the nation in 2016, three spots better than last year and 23 spots better than the No.35 ranking in 2009 as the nation was coming out of the Great Recession. The U-6 rate is the broadest formal measure of labor underutilization – or underemployment – the BLS reports. It’s determined by the total number of unemployed persons, plus all marginally attached workers, plus the total number of workers who are employed part time for economic reasons, as a percent of the civilian labor force plus all marginally attached workers, Many economists use this definition as the most statistically reliable measure because it uses the most robust protocols for sampling and data collection. Continue reading
Thirty-six work-related deaths were recorded in Idaho in 2015, up slightly from 34 fatalities in 2014. Twenty-two of the 2015 workplace deaths in Idaho occurred during transportation incidents.
Nationally, fatalities increased by 0.3 percent from 4,821 to 4,836.
Twenty-two of the 2015 workplace deaths in Idaho occurred during transportation incidents, which were the leading cause of workplace deaths over the past 10 years in Idaho – ranging from 42 percent in 2005 to 70 percent in 2011. Nearly one-third of the transportation incidents occurred in the agriculture sector.
Contact with objects and equipment was responsible for six Idaho deaths in 2015. Four fatalities were due to exposure to harmful substances. The cause of four deaths could not be disclosed due to confidentiality restrictions.
A year ago the Idaho Youth ChalleNGe Academy in Pierce wanted to enhance its technical training and career readiness programs but lacked the funding to do so. The $25,000 Workforce Development Training Fund micro-grant it received from the Idaho Department of Labor has helped make these plans a reality for the one year duration of the grant.
A dozen or so local organizations have also jumped in and donated their time, materials and expertise to help the academy improve the training offered to the at-risk teens who attend the academy from throughout the state. In-kind donations from partnering organizations amounted to more than $36,000 of goods and services. Local organizations have donated supplies such as scrap metal and building supplies used in the metal fabrication and construction courses as well as donating their time which includes instruction hours or general job skills training like mock-interviews.