Edwards meeting provides information on CareerWise apprenticeship program

If you go ...

What: CareerWise information meeting.

When: 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24.

Where: Colorado Mountain College auditorium, 150 Miller Ranch Road, Edwards.

More information: Meeting is open to the public. Go to the Vail Valley Partnership’s website," target="_blank">class="Hyperlink">, to learn more.

EAGLE COUNTY — A potentially big project in local education will have a relatively modest start.

The Vail Valley Partnership has teamed with CareerWise Colorado to unveil an apprenticeship program for local students. That modest start includes just five local employers — RA Nelson, Vail Resorts, Alpine Bank, the Gallegos Corp. and Can Do Multiple Sclerosis. Those companies will offer three-year apprenticeships to 11 students, all of whom are entering their junior year of high school.

So far, there’s far more interest than spots available.

Vail Valley Partnership Community Development Director Erik Williams is coordinating the program in the valley. In advance of a Wednesday, Jan. 24, meeting at Colorado Mountain College, Williams last week held a couple of information sessions at Battle Mountain High School and Eagle Valley High School. Williams said about 90 students came to the “apprentice fairs” in Gypsum, and 60 students were signed up for the session in Edwards.

That’s good momentum, Williams said. To continue the momentum, the idea is to present a lot of ideas at the Jan. 24 meeting.

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To help, CareerWise founder Noel Ginsburg is coming from the Front Range.

When the program kicks off in the 2018-2019 school year, Eagle County will be the first rural area participating. Current programs are already running in the Denver area, Fort Collins and Grand Junction.

The programs there are already finding success, Williams said, adding that businesses with apprentices are already signing up for a second round.

The CareerWise program is modeled on traditional European apprenticeship programs — particularly those from Switzerland and Germany — but with adjustments for this country.

The goal is to have students complete the three-year program — the junior and senior years of high school, plus one more — ready to step into middle-income professions, Williams said.

For instance, one of the apprentice jobs at Vail Resorts is for a maintenance technician, a good first step on the company’s ladder.

For all jobs, prospective apprentices must interview and must maintain both good academic and job performance.

And, Williams said, this first step in Eagle County could be the start of something far more significant.

“We need an education reformation,” Williams said. Programs such as CareerWise could be a model for “what has to happen across the country.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, or @scottnmiller.

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