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The State Of Iowa Has Developed A ‘Renewed Interest’ In Apprenticeships

Published Thursday, June 6, 2019
by Kathy Anderson/Via The Iowa Gazette
The State Of Iowa Has Developed A ‘Renewed Interest’ In Apprenticeships

The Iowa Gazette Editor’s Note: Kathy Anderson is Vice President for Member Development and Programs at the Iowa Association of Business and Industry.


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 those challenges.

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 are 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% 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 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 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.

After students complete one year of Pre-Apprentice Program or Line School, a two-year Apprenticeship Program includes a mix of classroom instruction, lab work and field experience.

To facilitate best-in-class results, MidAmerican Energy also has invested in state-of-the-art Line Mechanic Training Facilities.  These include classrooms and a replica of MidAmerican Energy’s Electric Infrastructure - a model neighborhood with a variety of characteristics Employees will encounter on the job, live wires, transformers and more.

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