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Governing: Can Apprenticeships Train the Workforce of the Future? States Hope So.

February 27, 2017

For eight years, Will Lake, a graduate of a small college in Helena, Mont., bounced from job to job, looking for a way to use his bachelor’s degree in psychology. He worked as a telephone salesman, a bartender and a case manager assisting high school dropouts. “I knew I wanted to help people,” he says, but he struggled to cover his rent and student loans. He thought about becoming a therapist, but that would require a master’s degree. The added time and expense seemed daunting. Then his wife came across an ad for an information technology apprenticeship sponsored by the state’s Department of Labor and Industry. Montana was willing to pay a recruit to learn new skills.

Lake took classes at a local college and trained with team leaders in the department’s technology services division. Last month, he became a credentialed computer programmer with a permanent job already lined up in the division. Even though it’s an entry-level position, it pays about $24 an hour -- more than he was making before -- and sets him on a path to earn close to $70,000 a year as a software engineer for the government. “I’m not worried about paying my bills anymore,” he says.

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