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What You May Have Missed During Last Week's Higher Education and Workforce Development Hearing

At the Education and Workforce Committee, we never tire of hearing about the on-the-ground work that people are doing to create jobs and empower the local workforce. Last week, our Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development held a hearing to hear witnesses talk about workforce development and how the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) supports on-the-job learning and apprenticeships. 

Here were some of the things witnesses told members at the hearing:

“An IEC [Independent Electrical Contractors] apprentice is able to earn while they learn, incurs little to no debt and enters into a well-paying job upon graduation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for an electrician in 2017 was $54,110.” – Ms. Carol Reynolds, the Founder of United Industrial Services

“Today, Wisconsin has nearly 11,000 registered apprentices with 2,500 employers. In addition, we are growing the number of programs available to individuals. Currently there are 200 occupations active in the State, and just last week I attended events at which two new programs were created.”Mr. B.J. Dernbach, the Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development

“Work-based-learning models that are developed and customized to meet business needs and business learning preferences are the most requested methods [for educating workers and developing their skills].”
Dr. Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board (SVWDB)

“[E]lectrical contractors, like the rest of the construction industry, continue to struggle to find qualified candidates to fill openings all across the country . . . This challenge is expected to continue in the coming years, with BLS estimating there to be a 14 percent increase in demand for electricians through 2024.”
Ms. Carol Reynolds, the Founder of United Industrial Services

“The annual median salary for someone who completes an apprenticeship program is $71,624. In addition, two years after completion of their programs, 98% of the apprenticeswere still working at the same occupation and 94% were still living in Wisconsin.”
Mr. B.J. Dernbach, the Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development

“We are working with 75 companies, of these 19 are new apprenticeship sponsors and 39 companies have added a new occupation to their current apprenticeship program. Five hundred fifty-two (552) new apprentices have been enrolled. Many are working toward industry certifications in occupations for manufacturing technician, electrician, machine operator, maintenance mechanic, and millwright.”
Dr. Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board

“Every day, IEC chapters and contractor members aggressively search for people interested in entering our apprenticeship program to become the electricians of the future . . . In the Louisville area, we are excited to see high school programs, like the one in Jefferson County, which is moving to a system that exposes students to possible career options, including careers in construction.”
Ms. Carol Reynolds, the Founder of United Industrial Services

“[Wisconsin's Youth Apprenticeship program] is designed for high school students who want hands-on learning in an occupational area at a worksite, along with classroom instruction . . . These efforts to engage with students, schools, parents, and businesses are paying off. During the 2017-18 school year, we had a record 4,225 youth apprentices working at a record 3,031 Wisconsin employers. The total earnings of the youth apprentices last school year were estimated to be over $19 million.”
Mr. B.J. Dernbach, the Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development

“In addition to the traditional company sponsored apprenticeship model, the SVWDB is supporting several pre-apprenticeship models . . . The first graduate of the pre-apprenticeship program was hired by The Hershey Company as their first Industrial Manufacturing Technician production apprentice. Once convinced of the apprenticeship model for production operators, The Hershey Company has now placed 53 apprentices into the new Industrial Manufacturing Technician occupation.”  –
Dr. Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive Officer of the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board

Workforce development and strengthening access to apprenticeship programs are top priorities for committee members, and E&W Republicans will continue working hard on policies to close the skills gap and put more Americans to work.

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