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As COVID-19 hits Oregon economy, apprenticeships could boost jobs

A bill in Congress could add 1 million apprenticeship opportunities in the United States.
auremar/Adobe Stock/Oregon News Service
A bill in Congress could add 1 million apprenticeship opportunities in the United States.

Eric Tegethoff, Oregon News Service

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Apprenticeships could play a key role in placing people in good-paying jobs, especially with high unemployment from the pandemic.

An analysis from the Brookings Institution urged the U.S. to expand its apprenticeship offerings as the country recovers from COVID-19.

Lou Long, apprenticeship committee administrator for Northwest Apprenticeship Services based in Salem, said the pathways provide a way for people to advance their careers quickly.

"You went from $16 an hour to $28.80 in four years," Long cited as an example. "What other kind of opportunity is there, out there, that you're going to get a $12 pay increase in four years?"

Last week, the U.S. House passed the National Apprenticeship Act, which would invest $3.5 billion over the next five years to create nearly one million apprenticeship opportunities.

Annelies Goger, David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the Brookings Institution's metropolitan policy program and author of the analysis, said apprenticeships are generally thought of us programs for trades such as construction and utilities.

"It actually is appropriate for a wide range of industries and various types of jobs," Goger explained. "This could range from things like nursing to construction to even technology, like software development."

Goger noted apprenticeships provide a long runway for people to build skills so they can be competitive in the labor market. It also could be a tool for diversifying industries such as technology.

She added that most tech companies recruit graduates from the same top computer science programs in the country, year after year.

"By doing apprenticeship, it gives them a different pipeline to bring people up to the level that they would need for a regular job," Goger emphasized.

Goger stressed it's also important apprenticeships coincide with college credits, which is required in Oregon.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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