Iowa Awards STEM Apprenticeship Grants


Four Iowa schools are getting STEM apprenticeship grants. The grant program backed by a combination of federal and state money will go to expand a registered apprenticeship program conducted through public schools to offer training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.

The U.S. Department of Labor awarded a $1.8 million ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion grant to Iowa last fall to grow the registered apprenticeship system in Iowa as a solution for employers seeking to build a qualified workforce. The grant partners, including U.S. Department of Labor- Office of Apprenticeship, Iowa Workforce Development, Iowa Economic Development Authority, Iowa Department of Corrections, Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Association of Business and Industry and the STEM Council, proposed a Quality Pre-Apprenticeship model within this grant to help secondary students meet the basic qualifications for entry into a registered apprenticeship program in the state.

Schools that applied to the grant funding program had to demonstrate proven partnerships with local workplaces. Those workplace partners also have to be open to pre-apprenticeship work or already take part in registered apprenticeship programs. The workplace partners will also be asked to deliver a “how-to manual” for other schools and employers in Iowa to help them replicate quality pre-apprenticeship programs in their communities.

“The average wage per year is $60,820 for a worker who completed a registered apprenticeship in Iowa,” explains Beth Townsend, Director of Iowa Workforce Development. “Because it is a learn-and-earn model, employers receive immediate help for their employment needs. And, parents are thrilled when their child can obtain a well-paying job without incurring student debt.”

Each school that was awarded funding in this round of grants offers a slightly different take on STEM apprenticeships.

Boone High School will offer semester-length, project-based opportunities in plumbing and electrical work. Workplace partners include Kruck Plumbing & Heating Co. and ABC of Iowa Apprenticeship & Training Trust.

Muscatine Community School District is partnering with Muscatine Community College to help students earn certificates in electronics and up to 38 credits toward an Engineering Technology Electromechanical Diploma or certificates in culinary arts and up to 32 credits toward a Culinary Arts Diploma. Workplace partners include HNI and Allsteel.

At Spencer High School, students will take part in a construction extended career experience, receiving on-site job training for an average of 12.5 hours per week along with earning a 10-hour OSHA certification. Workplace partners include Milford Electric and Midwestern Mechanical.

Finally, at Waukee APEX, high school seniors will be able to extend their learning beyond an initial APEX course in either manufacturing, constructing or technology. Apprenticeship partners include MidAmerican Energy, Weitz Company, Master Builders of Iowa, Neumann Brothers Construction, Remodelworks, Pillar, LightEdge Solutions and Accumold.

The program is part of an initiative in Iowa called “Future Ready”. Through Future Ready, policymakers in Iowa are working to ensure that 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce will have some type of education or training beyond high school by 2025.