Jake Gourley and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds.

Four Iowa high schools are using a $200,000 federal grant to help students line up “pre-apprenticeships.” Jake Gourley, a junior at Boone High School, has signed up for one of these four-year programs geared to teach trade skills.

“Doing this class will be a great honor because I would get a year ahead in schooling,” he says, “so when I went out in the workforce it would be easier employment and I’d know what I was doing.”

Gourley wants to be plumber, just like his dad and he’s doing a pre-apprenticeship at Kruck Plumbing and Heating Company in Boone.

“It’d be a big help at like getting out on my feet and not like having to worry about not getting employed,” Gourley says.

Kris Byam

Kris Byam, Gourley’s principal at Boone High School, says pre-apprenticeships are about “work-based learning.”

“We’re really excited for this opportunity and we feel like this is the wave of the future is really looking at work-based learning and how we can partner with all of our businesses,” Byam says. “And it’s a global market, so it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in Boone County, but it can be anywhere around the world and anywhere in the state and we’re looking forward to those partnerships and continuing to develop that.”

The other three high schools involved in these pre-apprenticeship programs are Spencer, Muscatine and the “Aspiring Professional Experience” program at Waukee. Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds says there’s a lot of collaboration between schools and businesses happening with these pre-apprenticeships.

“Any time that we can talk to students earlier rather than later about the career opportunities that exist and especially those career opportunities that exist in Iowa, that’s a good day,” Reynolds says.

Reynolds says this program will help get to a goal the Branstad/Reynolds Administration set recently. Their goal? Having at least 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce earning a college degree or professional certification, like completing a plumbing apprenticeship, by 2025.