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Gov. Little announces new youth workforce development and apprenticeship program

The partnership with Boys and Girls Clubs aims to spark interest in education careers while also helping current students deal with pandemic-related learning loss.

GARDEN CITY, Idaho — Wednesday morning, Idaho Governor Brad Little announced a new program aimed at developing the education work force while also helping young people make up for pandemic learning loss. 

The governor’s office and the Idaho Workforce Development Council is partnering with the Idaho Alliance of Boys and Girls Clubs to create an apprenticeship program tailored to creating career opportunities in education.

“Daycare facilities, obviously schools, all of those teachers in and people in those facilities, they had to do a lot of work the last 16 months, and this program is going to help resupply that pipeline going forward,” Little said.

The program is set to host 16- to 24-year-olds to be hired and trained in working with students, all while being paid and earning credit for college or credentials. Apprentices will be working toward becoming a youth development specialist by working with young Idahoans to help them make up pandemic learning loss. 

Gov. Little says it’s a great public service that helps students in need while also promoting growth in tomorrow’s education professionals.

“Everyone has the same goal, we want to make sure that our youth have opportunities in the state to have wonderful careers and we want to make sure our employers have the workforce they need to grow and expand,” said Wendi Secrist, Executive Director of the Idaho Workforce Development Council.   

Secrist says even before the pandemic, there were concerns about the future of the Idaho workforce. She says this new apprenticeship initiative is a great step toward addressing that.

“As a youth development specialist, that can be the stopping point if that’s what they want, but we are also making sure it’s aligned if they are interested in going into the teaching profession that what they do as a youth development specialist will help them with their teaching credential,” Secrist said.

Boys & Girls Clubs serve about 15,000 youth at 28 different locations around Idaho. The program is looking for teens and young adults to work with those youth in programs designed to help them recover from learning and social losses created by COVID. 

RELATED: Boys & Girls Club receives $122K donation to provide free youth counseling services

The hope is that while students get the help they need, apprentices will find the spark to take on education as a career.

“An individual who is interested in any aspect of education -- classroom teacher, school counselor, speech pathologist, librarian -- any of the occupations that we need within our education system,” Secrist said.

The program is funded with federal aid allocated by Idaho lawmakers and approved by Gov. Little. With more than $800 million in state surplus, Idaho is now in a position to invest in education and workforce development. 

I asked Little if he thought state money could go toward more programs like this.

“It won’t be a surprise. What we are doing to retain teachers, reward professional teachers, what we are doing to motivate education, what we are doing on literacy, what we are doing on social/emotional, those are things we’ve been doing in the past, and don’t be shocked if we do that going into the future,” Little said.

Applicants accepted into the program will receive training as well as actual work experience while helping young Idahoans who fell behind in education during a difficult pandemic school year.

“These kids can start learning some of the skills that they need for the trajectory of Idaho to continue on its current rate,” Little said.

Program leaders encourage those interested in joining the program to contact their nearest Boys & Girls club.

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