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Ag Ed Approved as New Occupation for Apprenticeship Programs
Iowa Ag Connection - 01/10/2019

Through the efforts of the Iowa Council on Agricultural Education, 'agriculture education instructor' was recently approved as an apprenticeable occupation by the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship.

The Office of Apprenticeship determines which occupations can quality for apprenticeship. They solicited input from the agricultural education industry based on the application submitted by the Council. The office made the determination in accordance with Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations. An apprenticeable occupation is one which is clearly identified and commonly recognized through an industry.

Because of this new designation, high school students can now begin pre-apprenticeship programs in agricultural education. This aligns with the supervised agricultural experience (SAE) area of agriculture teacher. Students pursuing a proficiency award in the area of Agricultural Education can use pre-apprenticeship resources as they conduct their SAE program.

Pre-apprenticeship services and programs are designed to prepare individuals to enter and succeed in Registered Apprenticeship programs. These programs have a documented partnership with at least one Registered Apprenticeship program sponsor and together, they expand the participant's career pathway opportunities with industry-based training coupled with classroom instruction. Pre-apprenticeship training is a great way for participants to: 1) explore and learn about exciting careers, 2) qualify to meet the minimum standards for selection to a Registered Apprenticeship program, 3) benefit from classroom and technology-based training, 4) get a start on career-specific training with viable career pathway opportunities, 5) build your literacy, math, English, and work-readiness skills employers desire, and 6) advance into a Registered Apprenticeship program.

Quality pre-apprenticeship programs contribute to the development of a diverse and skilled workforce by preparing participants to meet the basic qualifications for entry into one or more Registered Apprenticeship programs. Through a variety of unique designs and approaches, pre-apprenticeship programs can be adapted to meet the needs of differing populations being trained, the various employers and sponsors they serve, and specific opportunities within the local labor market.

SAE programs are planned, practical activities conducted outside of regularly scheduled class time that help students develop and apply agricultural knowledge and skills learned inside the classroom. These activities can include entrepreneurship, placement (paid or unpaid) or agriscience research. Developing an SAE into a successful program takes time and planning. SAE programs also involve goal setting because they take time to grow and develop.

"Nationwide there is a shortage of agricultural education instructors," said chair, Will Fett. "This new designation could allow for students interested in teaching agriculture to gain valuable experience earlier and be more confident when they earn their degree and enter the field. Schools now also have the option to establish an apprenticeship program to facilitate the transition of teachers and ensure well prepared professionals."

The Iowa Council on Agricultural Education is a bipartisan effort that is charged to review, develop, and recommend standards for secondary and postsecondary agriculture education in Iowa. Agriculture education is offered in 235 high schools across Iowa. Agriculture education employs a three-component model to deliver teaching through classroom instruction, supervised agricultural experience programs, and leadership development through FFA. Students who take an agriculture education class are eligible to join FFA. There are more than 15,400 FFA members in Iowa.

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