CareerWise Colorado to launch apprenticeship program in Eagle County | VailDaily.com

CareerWise Colorado to launch apprenticeship program in Eagle County

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DENVER — CareerWise Colorado, a nonprofit implementing a statewide, modern youth-apprenticeship program, is working with the Vail Valley Partnership to expand into Eagle County beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

CareerWise's program offers three-year apprenticeships for high-school students in career pathways such as information technology, financial services, business operations and advanced manufacturing. Apprentices develop in-demand workforce skills, valuable industry credentials and approximately 30 hours of debt-free college credit while earning an hourly wage. Businesses reduce turnover, develop a highly trained workforce and realize a tangible return on investment, based on the value of the apprentice's work.

"We've received interest from a number of communities about implementing a CareerWise modern youth-apprenticeship program because of the mutual, evident benefits to both young people and industry," said Ashley Carter, CareerWise Colorado's chief strategy officer. "Eagle County was selected because Vail Valley Partnership has done the hard work to get their community down the path of readiness."

CareerWise held an open application period from February through June of this year, with the selection process based on a framework that demonstrates readiness from the business and education communities, as well as a committed community leadership.

"With the increasing cost of living in the Valley, it's important for Eagle County to move beyond seasonal employment opportunities and create pathways to careers that provide a good living wage," said Erik Williams, Vail Valley Partnership's director of community development. "We have tremendous community support from our business, education and local government leaders for implementing a successful CareerWise apprenticeship program."

Vail Valley Partnership represents 850 local businesses, making up more than 80 percent of the Eagle County workforce, and will partner with CareerWise in developing the business-led, student-centered program. Several Eagle County businesses have already committed to participation in the apprenticeship program, including Alpine Bank, The Gallegos Corp. and Vail Resorts.

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Additionally, Eagle County has familiarity with experiential learning-based programs through its CareerX internship and career exploration program. Eagle County Schools and Vail Valley Foundation collaborated to secure 46 internships and 150 job-shadowing opportunities during the 2016-17 school year. This support from various community, business, education and government leaders creates a strong foundation on which to build an apprenticeship program.

"Since 2002, Colorado Mountain College Vail Valley in Edwards has supported dual enrollment for hundreds of students each year, empowering them to earn thousands of college credit hours and saving Eagle County families millions of dollars in tuition," said Dr. Kathryn Regjo, Colorado Mountain College vice president and campus dean in the Vail Valley.

"We are honored to be one of the many partners within the first rural site CareerWise has chosen. Working with CareerWise, Vail Valley Partnership, Eagle County Schools, the Edwards Workforce Center and YouthPower365 will allow us to continue to help provide even more students with greater — and earlier — exposure to career pathways and postsecondary educational opportunities."

For more information on CareerWise, visit http://www.careerwisecolorado.org.