Creating career pathways helps the medical industry and the state meet local workforce needs
A Saint Alphonsus nurse explains the proper use of gloves, to Linda Akike, and another student. (Photo courtesy of College of Western Idaho)
Linda Akike came to Boise from the Republic of Congo. She always dreamed of being a nurse, so when she heard she could enroll in a program that may lead to a full-time job at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise, she leaped at the chance.
Akike learned about a new pre-apprenticeship program offered by the Idaho Department of Labor and the College of Western Idaho (CWI) through the International Rescue Committee in Boise. The CWI class offers 80 hours of instruction and training to prepare job seekers for an Environmental Services position in health care, and potentially a full-on career in the future.
The class trains people for environmental service work in a hospital and helps people like Akike, for whom English is a second language, learn English-speaking skills and health care vocabulary terms she’ll need to know.
Just about everyone knows computer code runs the backend of computer systems, web sites, mobile apps and more.
When Ramsey Bland decided to apply for a 13-week immersion class at Boise CodeWorks, the only computer code he knew was the bar code on the side of a pizza box.
Bland, 23, had studied mechanical engineering at Boise State University for several years, but he couldn’t keep up with the cost of going to college full time. His job delivering pizza covered the rent, living expenses and college. It was a stretch.
When he applied for the CodeWorks immersion class, a super-intensive drill where he could learn how to write four computer languages in a little more than three months, he learned how to plan projects and solve complex problems as part of a team.
Safe, plentiful and affordable drinking water, environmentally sound wastewater treatment, and the people who maintain the systems – are some of Idaho’s most precious resources and something many people take for granted.
“We are encouraging our 120 members to plan for the future,” explained Kelsie Cole, apprenticeship coordinator for the Idaho Rural Water Association. “More than half the professionals who oversee or operate Idaho’s drinking water and wastewater facilities are within 10 years or less of retirement. One-third are more than 55 years old. Another 30 percent are over age 45.”
Cole’s job is to meet the demand for future operators by pairing quality job candidates with a new statewide apprenticeship program involving 120 Idaho cities and communities that operate drinking water and wastewater systems throughout the state.
The Association is using a $30,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to recruit job candidates interested in a career managing Idaho’s drinking water or wastewater systems. What they need is more Idaho cities and communities willing to step up and offer the on-the-job training component of the apprenticeship program.
After a year of planning, a new program at Saint Alphonsus that prepares individuals for an environmental services technician (EVS) apprenticeship kicked off in September.
The free EVS Pre-apprenticeship Program at Saint Alphonsus in Boise and Nampa started as a conversation in August 2017 involving Saint Alphonsus, the Idaho Hospital Association and the Idaho Department of Labor.
The hospital was having difficulty filling EVS technician positions. These techs provide a vital function, ensuring hospitals are safe, clean and infection-free. Among other duties, they are trained to safely collect, store and dispose of hazardous materials.
Labor workforce consultant Ofelia Morales and representatives of the College of Western Idaho (CWI) Workforce Development and the Boise office of the International Rescue Committee (IRC), met with Saint Alphonsus’ EVS program staff to discuss the issue.
“Each of the partners has pieces to share,” Morales said. The Department of Labor helps with the cost of the apprenticeship for qualifying individuals through the federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act program. “IRC has case managers, CWI offers the class and Saint Alphonsus offers the jobs,” Morales said. The first pre-apprenticeship class has been funded and managed through the ESL Pathways Program at CWI.
Peter Moats is funny, resilient and a true survivor, says Debi Middlekoop, workforce consultant at the Idaho Department of Labor in Moscow.
The 21-year-old Peter was born in China and was abandoned at a young age. A woman who became “Grandma” found him alone in a city of more than 8 million people in the South China province of Guangdong. With her help, the two lived on the streets for a few years. When Grandma became ill, she took Peter to an orphanage where he stayed for a few more years until he learned Grandma had died.
Peter’s story took several twists and turns over the years before he ended up in Idaho where he eventually connected with Middlekoop and Monica Jones at the Department of Labor and he began to see some of his dreams become reality.
Whether during a downturn or a robust economy, there are always scammers out there trying to take advantage of job seekers, counting on them being eager to find a job. Fortunately, if you know what to look for, you can avoid falling into their trap.
The following are signs to watch for during a job search that might just mean the person you’re dealing with is after their own payday and not representing a legitimate company.
Fake Email Addresses
Beware of recruiters who contact you using an email address that is not associated with the company they claim to represent. Legitimate recruiters will have a company email address, not a personal or free email account.
Look at the email address carefully. It should contain the company’s website. For example, the Idaho Department of Labor’s website is labor.idaho.gov, and employees all have email addresses ending in @labor.idaho.gov.
A year ago Marcos Soto was working as a helper/grinder in a welding shop. This low paying, labor intensive job was the only type of job he had ever held.
Soto, now 42 years old, was recently released from prison after eight-and-a-half years. He wanted to find a better job but knew his status as a felon wasn’t the only way his job possibilities were limited. He wanted to become a welder but without training, hands-on experience and enough practice, he would not be able to pass the exams so he could earn the required certifications.
As much as Soto wanted to get ahead, he simply was not able to do so on his own. His small salary made it too difficult to save up the $3,000 needed to enroll in the welder fabrication courses provided by Pro-Weld Welding School in Nampa.
Luckily, a friend referred Soto to the Idaho Department of Labor where he met with Michael LeDuc, a workforce consultant in the Boise office. LeDuc met with Soto and told him about the Workforce and Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program and found Soto also qualified for job training assistance from Vocational Rehabilitation. Soto said he was thrilled to find out he qualified for a grant which covered the cost of the welding classes and paid for enough tools to get him started.
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
Certified financial planner apprentices (pictured from left) Richard Naing, Taylor Reed and Serpil Rawson (on far right) enjoy learning from Figure 8 Investment Strategies President & Founder Lisa Cooper (pictured left of Serpil). Figure 8 Investment Strategies is located in Boise.
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.
A $96,000 Workforce Development Training grant has helped Eastern Idaho Technical College (EITC) restart its Radiation Safety Training program. This grant is not only helping the college to resupply the workforce pipeline with qualified technicians needed to replace the aging workforce as they retire but is also making a difference in the lives of the people enrolled in this program by providing a low-cost training option that translates to high wages.
The program, which consists of two semesters in the classroom and an eight-week summer internship, prepares students to become radiation control technicians. The students perform a critical function at the Idaho National Laboratory and other Department of Energy (DOE) sites by monitoring and controlling radiation levels at the worksite to help ensure the safety of the people who work there. “The only other place to offer any kind of radiation safety training in this area is in Washington and they don’t teach the radiation contact information needed at DOE sites,” said Mahlon Heileson, radiation safety program instructor.
Idaho Department of Labor workforce consultants serve as career coaches for a job seeker during a mock interview.
They say a great resume will help you get your foot in the door, but it’s how well you handle the interview which determines if you actually get offered the job.
Beth Larson and Katie Taylor, workforce consultants in the Idaho Department of Labor’s Pocatello office, often recommend and perform mock interviews for job seekers. “If you’ve gone on more than four job interviews but have not received a job offer, you may need to ask for help in the form of a mock interview,” Larson said. Larson and Taylor shared the top reasons any job seeker will benefit from a mock interview:
It will help reduce your stress about an important interview.
An important job interview can be very stressful and it is exactly this type of situation which makes most people nervous and more likely to blow it. A little practice with a job coach can make all the difference. Larson and Taylor have helped to coach students who have little to no experience in the job market and need help learning how to handle an interview as well as job seekers who have not been on an interview in a few years. “There are always things we can improve upon when it comes to making a great first impression with a prospective employer,” Taylor said.