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Spokane, Washington-Area Apprenticeships Continue To Enroll Applicants Amid COVID-19

Published Thursday, November 12, 2020
Spokane, Washington-Area Apprenticeships Continue To Enroll Applicants Amid COVID-19

(SPOKANE, WASHINGTON) - As the Coronavirus Pandemic forced School Officials to change how they deliver classroom instruction, Spokane-area Apprenticeship Programs have adapted by reducing class sizes and shifting a portion of their curriculum on-line.  Despite the changes, Apprenticeship Programs are continuing to enroll students to fill a need for Workers in Skilled Trades, which are deemed an essential businesses during the pandemic.

Apprenticeships provide Workers a combination of classroom instruction and paid, on-the-job training that leads to a certification or credential.

Apprentices are needed in several industries, including the Building Trades, as a large portion of the workforce is nearing retirement.

When the stay-home order took hold in mid-March, the Inland Empire Electrical Apprenticeship Program quickly pivoted its training on-line - even though it continued to offer in-person training in smaller groups.

“Fortunately, we had most of our hands-on training done for the year.  We were able to complete classroom training that typically goes through May on-line,” said Jon Medaris, Training Director for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 73’s Apprenticeship Program.

The Inland Empire Electrical Apprenticeship, a joint partnership between IBEW Local 73 and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), offers programs for residential, commercial, industrial and low-voltage Electricians.

Spokane Community College, which partners with employers to provide Apprenticeship training for students, has experienced an increase in skilled applicants for programs, said Kenna May, the Manager of Apprenticeship for Spokane Community College (SCC).

SCC also had to shift a portion of its Apprenticeship classroom curriculum on-line, in addition to offering reduced in-person classes with social distancing, sanitizing and safety measures in place.

“It’s ‘changing the way we are offering training, but we were able to adapt and get through,’” she said.

Earlier this month, SCC and Eastern Washington University (EWU) announced an agreement that provides a pathway for a Journeyman to obtain an Associate’s Degree at SCC and transfer to EWU to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Technology.

As part of the agreement, SCC updated some courses in its multi-Occupational Trades Associate’s Degree Program to align with classes offered for EWU’s Applied Technology Program.

In 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor reported more than 585,000 active Apprentices in 23,000 programs nationwide.

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