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Regional workforce training centers receive a $5.8 million grant to fund apprenticeships

Erika Johnson, a kindergarten teacher at the Stix Early Childhood Center, opens her arms while reading a book about snowmen to her students.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Erika Johnson, a kindergarten teacher at the Stix Early Childhood Center, opens her arms while reading a book about snowmen to her students. The Gateway Hub apprenticeship program will provide on-the-job training for people in interested in education, bioscience and health care.

The Madison County Employment and Training center and five other workforce agencies in the St. Louis region have received a four-year, $5.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to fund bioscience, health care and education apprenticeships.

The Gateway Registered Apprenticeship Programs Hub includes workforce development agencies from St. Louis and Madison, St. Clair, St. Charles, Jefferson, Franklin and St. Louis counties.

The Hub aims to employ and train 750 people from low-income and historically underserved communities in fields that are in high demand. Participants will work with program trainers to help determine their career paths.

The job training program can help establish work history and define professional goals, said Tony Fuhrmann, Madison County’s employment and training director.

“These apprenticeships, hopefully, are the starting point for people to further their career and move up in whatever industry they choose,” he said.

Participants must take a number of on-the-job training hours to complete the apprenticeship. They also will receive classroom instruction. Students will work with employers throughout the program and could qualify for full-time employment. They will receive an apprenticeship certificate after completing the training. The apprenticeship program begins in January.

The program could train pharmacy technicians, licensed vocational nurses, bioscience process operators, teacher aides and certified medical assistants.

Such training is needed in the St. Louis region, where people living in economically disadvantaged communities often cannot afford to take off from work to attend school, Fuhrmann said.

“A lot of times people don't want to go to school without earning money,” he said. “This allows them to earn and learn in the career that they want to enter into.”

Local hospitals, universities and community organizations will help provide workforce training.

Regional workforce directors say employers can recruit people who finish the apprenticeship program to help solve their company’s labor shortages.

The goal is to meet the needs of employers in St. Louis County and to provide upward economic mobility for people of color and low-income communities, said Greg Laposa, St. Louis County's workforce development director.

“The hopes are really that we really make a dent in addressing those regional racial disparities in workforce development and employment outcomes,” Laposa said.

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.

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