STEM Quality Pre-Apprenticeships to stoke Iowa’s workforce pipeline

Photo of Boone High School Student Jake Gourley
At a recent Governor’s press conference, Boone High School Junior Jake Gourley attested that he and his peers stand to gain valuable job skills and a competitive hiring advantage through Quality Pre-Apprenticeships while in high school. [Image from Radio

For the majority of Iowans who did not enjoy an apprenticeship enroute to employment, the concept might conjure memories of Johnny Tremain from high school history class. Yet, unlike Johnny’s silversmith apprenticeship, modern Quality Pre-Apprenticeships unfolding through a grant to four STEM BEST® school-business partners will be safe, high quality, collaborative learning experiences in high-demand employment sectors.

Last fall, Iowa Workforce Development won a $1.8 million ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, inviting the STEM Council to cultivate Quality Pre-Apprenticeship sites through a $200,000 subaward. An internal competition open to the 18 current STEM BEST models across the state set the stage for Boone High School, Muscatine High School in cooperation with Muscatine Community College (MCC), Spencer High School and Waukee’s APEX (Aspiring Professional Experience) to pioneer and, then, showcase their models for Quality Pre-Apprenticeships to other communities throughout Iowa.

Boone’s model will build on its current high school work-based learning experience by offering semester-length, project-based opportunities initially in plumbing and electrical fields through the School Career Connections and vocational rehabilitation programs, as well as through partnerships with Kruck Plumbing & Heating Co. and ABC of Iowa Apprenticeship & Training Trust.

Muscatine High School with MCC will build Quality Pre-Apprenticeships through their Manufacturing and Culinary Arts Academies, leading to certificates in electronics and in culinary arts working with Chef Brad Scott for the culinary pathway and companies HNI and Allsteel for the manufacturing pathway.

Spencer High School’s Quality Pre-Apprenticeships will be Construction Extended Career Experiences whereby students receive on-the-job training toward OSHA certification in concert with skills acquisition, working with Milford Electric and Midwestern Mechanical partners.

And, Waukee APEX Quality Pre-Apprenticeships will accord high school seniors the opportunity to build upon courses in manufacturing, construction and technology fields, working with MidAmerican Energy, The Weitz Company, Master Builders of Iowa, Neumann Brothers Construction, Remodelworks, Pillar, LightEdge Solutions and Accumold.

More complete descriptions of these innovative educational models and their 14 STEM BEST peers are available at

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