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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, reads to her classroom on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, in Forest Park Southeast. Johnson has been tutoring children over the weekends to make up for learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brian Munoz
/
St. Louis Public Radio
Erika Johnson, a kindergarten teacher at the Stix Early Childhood Center, reads to her classroom on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022, in Forest Park Southeast. Johnson has been tutoring children over the weekends to make up for learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

Copyright 2022 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Andrea Henderson joined St. Louis Public Radio in March 2019, where she covers race, identity and culture as part of the public radio collaborative Sharing America. Andrea comes to St. Louis Public Radio from NPR, where she reported for the race and culture podcast Code Switch and produced pieces for All Things Considered. Andrea’s passion for storytelling began at a weekly newspaper in her hometown of Houston, Texas, where she covered a wide variety of stories including hurricanes, transportation and Barack Obama’s 2009 Presidential Inauguration. Her art appreciation allowed her to cover arts and culture for the Houston African-American business publication, Empower Magazine. She also covered the arts for Syracuse’s Post-Standard and The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina.