BETTENDORF, Iowa — On Friday Sept. 23, Pleasant Valley High School (PVHS) senior James Morley signed a two-year apprenticeship with Boyler's Ornamental Iron which he will begin following graduation.
The PV school district in partnership with the local ironworks company held a ceremony Friday at Boyler's to celebrate Morley's decision.
As many students embark for college after high school, Morley's decision reflects a less popularized post-graduate career path that highlights the nationwide need for skilled tradesmen. "It's different than the typical path that a student takes. And it took some kind of deciding whether this kind of path I want to go down," Morley said.
But Morley knows that he can still attend college, after he completes the apprenticeship. "College is still in the books for me. I may attend a four-year university after this apprenticeship but I think this apprenticeship is going to give me a unique skill set compared to any other kids. So I'm really fortunate for the opportunity that it gives me to kind of shape my career path how I want."
Morley discovered the apprenticeship program opportunity with the help of PVHS's Career Center Coordinator, Mary Johnson.
Johnson is helping manage an apprenticeship program that intends to inform students and families of career options. "There's options, they can get those workplace skills, they can build the technical skills, and still have time to go on to whatever they wanted. James talks about how he still has options, he can go to college, he can stay with Boyler, he can do so much with his life. And this is just added value. And that's what apprenticeships, that's what the certifications are all about. It's added value for what their future plans are," Johnson said of the apprenticeship program.
This year, PVHS's apprenticeship program has around fifteen students working towards apprenticeships. Johnson says that the program is helping local businesses find skilled workers, "[Businesses] get to have a chance to see the student in action. They get to train them the way that they want the welders to be because coming out of school, they may not have that experience if they hadn't had that opportunity with an apprenticeship."
The skilled labor shortage is one of biggest challenges facing the U.S. economy. Johnson want parents to know that students who choose to pursue an apprenticeship are expanding their inventory of opportunities.
"These opportunities are not limiting them or pigeonholing them in a certain career. This is giving them opportunities. So parents, make sure that you're giving the students those opportunities and exploring everything because they're going to be more successful," Johnson said.
Last spring, dozens of Quad City students accepted offers for local apprenticeships.
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