IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – An EM contractor at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site recently carried out a plan to create a pipeline of skilled employees to help meet the needs of the cleanup program but also benefit private industries in the area.
Contractor Idaho Environmental Coalition (IEC) was instrumental in establishing a workforce training center to cater to the health care, agriculture, manufacturing, construction and public safety industries in Bonneville County and surrounding areas. Through the center, prospective employers will sponsor students as they learn skills needed by the employers. In exchange for the sponsorship, students will commit to work for their sponsors for a prescribed time.
IEC Strategic Initiatives Director Dana Kirkham said the center, which celebrated its opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in September, will provide specific skills to students, making them marketable in certain industries upon program completion.
“This will bridge the gap for students who graduate from high school and want a quick, viable career path,” she said.
Kirkham said both school districts in Idaho Falls expressed interest in the center because it benefits vocational-technical students who don’t want to attend a college or university after graduation. In addition, the center will be used by industry to provide upskill training to their existing employees. Between new employee training and enhancing the skills of the existing workforce, the center is anticipated to be well utilized.
Idaho is currently one of the fastest-growing states in the country. An influx of new residents has put additional strains on industries in eastern Idaho struggling to fill hundreds of available positions.
IEC partnered with an eastern Idaho community college to train radiological control technicians for INL Site jobs. That ongoing program has been extremely beneficial to both the company and graduating students.
“Our partnership with the local community college has proven that as an employer, you get the greatest benefit when you invest in the training of your future employees,” Kirkham said. “The workforce training center will operate with the same mindset.”
She said the workforce training center will benefit not just IEC but many employers in eastern Idaho who need, for example, building framers, trained hospital staff and skilled farm employees.
Bonneville County donated an existing building for the workforce training center. Complete with a board of directors and partners, the center is in business and looking forward to its first wave of graduates next year.
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