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As a regional manager at Idaho Power, Angelique Rood is frustrated that her employees are unable to earn college credit in Idaho for course work completed during apprenticeships. “We are the only state that doesn’t have that option for our apprentices,” Rood said.

That distinction is about to change.

“Idaho Power pretty much pointed at us, rightfully so, and asked us to try to make something happen because it was happening in other states,” said Barry Pate, Dean of Technical Education at the College of Southern Idaho. “What we are trying to do for companies that value post-secondary credentials is to create alignment between their apprenticeship programs and state requirements for degrees and certificates.”

CSI’s new Applied Technology Program creates pathways for workers earning journeyman licenses through federally registered apprenticeships to apply what they’ve learned toward college credit. “We’ll work with them to translate those skills and competencies into College of Southern Idaho credits and that puts them on the pathway to earn additional credits that could result in an Associate in Applied Science Degree,” Pate said.

The U.S. Department of Labor reviews and approves the registered apprenticeships to ensure there is adequate instruction occurring in the field and in the classroom to qualify the apprentice as a journeyman in their field. “There is a tremendous amount of rigor involved in a full-fledged apprenticeship program,” Rood said. “Most of those programs are going to be at least 6,000 hours in length and often times the classroom instruction is conducted by a college or university in an area where the employer operates.”

CSI will launch its Applied Technology program this fall with 40 students. “It has potential to be a game changer and to open doors for those adult learners that we have struggled to find ways to serve,” CSI Executive Vice President/Chief Academic Officer Todd Schwarz said.

In addition to her duties at Idaho Power, Rood also serves on the Governor’s Workforce Development Council and says several of Idaho’s major employers are looking for ways to prepare employees for promotional opportunities that often require college degrees. “We’re really grateful to CSI for undertaking this effort,” she said. “It doesn’t fit within the traditional mindset of what higher education looks like but it is something we believe — both at the Workforce Development Council and at Idaho Power, our apprentices and journeymen deserve.”

Rood believes this approach has potential to go beyond CSI. “We’ve met with the deans of the other community and technical colleges in Idaho and there is great interest in providing programs like this to all employers who have registered apprenticeship programs. CSI has created the framework that we hope will be replicated throughout our state,” she said.

“It really will help Idaho’s ‘go-on’ rate. We believe this is incredibly low-hanging fruit to help get to that 60 percent goal.”

Matt Freeman is the executive director of the Idaho State Board of Education.

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