Gov. Terry Branstad and Lt. Gov Kim Reynolds announced Monday that four Iowa STEM school partners, also known as STEM BEST (Business Engaging Students and Teachers), have been selected to pilot a new Quality Pre-Apprenticeship model.


Waukee’s APEX program was one of the STEM BEST partners selected.


The Waukee APEX program, through collaboration between education, business, and the community, develops highly skilled, adaptable, global innovators and leaders, according to www.waukeeapex.org. Students are able to work with local companies to gain real-world experience and learn about fields of work they are interested in while they are still in high school.


According to a news release from Gov. Branstad’s office, the Quality Pre-Apprenticeship model is being developed and funded by a ApprenticeshipUSA State Expansion grant from the U.S. Department of Labor worth $1.8 million. The grant is being used to grow the Registered Apprenticeship system in Iowa as a solution for employers seeking to build a qualified workforce, and the new Quality Pre-Apprenticeship model would help secondary students meet basic qualifications for entry into a Registered Apprenticeship Program in Iowa.


The STEM Council will lead the way on that portion of the grant, using $200,000 to kick start the Quality Pre-Apprenticeship Programs. Four STEM BEST partners were selected based on their in-depth proposals.


Waukee’s stated that “High school seniors continue learning past the initial APEX course in the manufacturing, construction and technology fields. Workplace partners include MidAmerican Energy, Weitz Company, Master Builders of Iowa, Neumann Brothers Construction, Remodelworks, Pillar, LightEdge Solutions and Accumold.


The other partners selected for the program were Boone High School, Muscatine Community School District and Spencer High School.


“We view Registered Apprenticeship Programs as a key strategy for meeting the Future Ready Iowa goal where 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce will have some type of education or training beyond high school by 2025,” said. Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, co-chair of the STEM Council in a news release. “Now with Quality Pre-Apprenticeship Programs, we can introduce these fast-track careers to Iowa’s youth at an even younger age, ultimately qualifying them for Registered Apprenticeship pathways that fill the workforce pipeline in Iowa in fields of high demand.”


“These four STEM BEST partners continue to make strong connections with the local businesses in their communities,” said Kemin Industries President and CEO Dr. Chris Nelson, co-chair of the STEM Council. “This new pilot opportunity will build on what they’ve already established and will help students earn applicable credentials when they graduate high school to further their education in some of the most in-demand careers in our state.”


Director Beth Townsend of Iowa Workforce Development said the STEM BEST partners will help to expand Registered Apprenticeship Programs to youth, one of the targeted populations identified in the grant.


“Introducing high school students to careers that they can pursue through a Registered Apprenticeship is a winning solution for students, their parents and employers,” Townsend said. “The average wage per year is $60,820 for a worker who completed a Registered Apprenticeship in Iowa. Because it is a learn-and-earn model, employers receive immediate help for their employment needs. And, parents are thrilled when their child can obtain a well-paying job without incurring student debt.”