Illinois apprenticeship program benefits local businesses and employees

Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 4:53 AM CDT
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QUINCY (WGEM) - It can be hard for local businesses to find and retain employees in the current hiring climate but a state program is looking to connect those looking to build a career with local business looking for workers.

The program allows businesses to set up an apprenticeship program which give those who participate on-the-job training as well as classroom learning. During the course of the program, the Illinois Department of Labor will cover up to 75% of an apprentice’s wages.

Those at Two Rivers Regional Council help businesses set up their apprenticeship programs. They said YUM Factory in Quincy is the first business in the Adams County area currently offering an apprenticeship program.

YUM Factory owner Melanie Aitken said their program took about six months to set up but has so far been a success.

She said as a small business, she used to struggle to find dedicated workers and would lose money investing the time and money training them.

She said their apprenticeship program connects them with people dedicated to growing their skill base and career.

“Getting the employee that has the passion, getting them into a program that’s going to give them more, and getting help from the Department of Labor to kind of back that initial training program, it’s outstanding,” Aitken said.

She said they currently have two apprentices and are looking to hire a third as well.

Apprentice Kayleigh Shoup said she had some prior baking experience before joining the YUM Factory’s program in November. She said in addition getting workplace experience she is also learning about what it takes to run a business.

Shoup said combination of the education and work experience is helping prepare her for the future.

“Down the road I would love to open my own shop of some sort but also, if I were to move or, go anywhere, I would have this skillset and this certificate under my belt,” she said.

Shoup said, as a mother, the program is useful because if she wasn’t getting paid through during it, providing for her family would be much more difficult.

Businesses interested in learning about or starting an apprenticeship program can call Two Rivers Regional Council at (217) 224-8171. Workers interested in learning more about any apprenticeships available can also call Two Rivers Regional Council as well.

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