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Developing a Skilled Workforce Through Registered Apprenticeships

by Idaho Department of Labor Director Melinda S. Smyser

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.

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