Wyoming Workforce Services celebrates National Apprenticeship Week, looks toward future of programs

CHEYENNE - The Wyoming Department of Workforce Services (DWS) announced today its participation in National Apprenticeship Week (NAW), which will be held from November 11-17. Established by the U.S. Department of Labor, NAW is a nationwide celebration that brings together business leaders, labor, educational institutions, and Americans interested in the impact apprenticeship programs have on closing the U.S. skills gap and preparing the American workforce for in-demand jobs.

DWS was recently awarded a $641K Apprenticeship Expansion Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, an award that Robin Sessions Cooley, agency director, says comes at an opportune time for the state. "Apprenticeships are industry-driven training programs which allow job seekers to earn a paycheck and learn a skilled trade at the same time," says Director Cooley, "and right now we need viable options for our citizens looking for high-wage jobs."

Director Cooley said that while most people associate apprenticeships with long-established trades like welding and electrical work, opportunities are evolving in other sectors, such as technology and cybersecurity. "No one knows what skills are needed in the workforce better than employers. Apprenticeships offer the opportunity for business owners to build their own pipeline of skilled workers with the exact skills they need to prosper," Cooley said.

Laura Baker, co-founder of the nonprofit CyberWyoming, agrees. Baker says apprenticeships are vital to the technology industry. "Wyoming, like the rest of the nation, has a shortage of technology professionals. As cybersecurity awareness grows in our state, we have to have a pool of labor that can support the need. The Cybersecurity Technician and IT Specialists Apprenticeships are a solution to meet that growing need."

Baker said employers also benefit from apprenticeships because they follow a standard of training. "Tech apprenticeships are competency-based, so demonstrating competencies is key. Employers also rely on CyberWyoming as the sponsoring agency for the administrative work to manage the apprenticeship and also for soft skills training."

"When the employee is finished with the apprenticeship, they receive a Department of Labor certificate that is valid nationwide.It is definitely a feather in their cap," Baker said.

Last year alone, NAW saw more than 1,145 businesses, unions, and other industry and education partners participate in the celebration of apprenticeship programs across the country by hosting events and submitting proclamations. Earlier this week, Governor Mark Gordon signed a proclamation designating November 11-17 Wyoming Apprenticeship Week.

For more information about apprenticeship opportunities in Wyoming, please contact Sheila Tenorio at (307) 777-2892 or sheila.tenorio@wyo.gov.

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