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CNA Apprenticeship breaks new ground

by TOM GREENE/North Idaho College
| March 21, 2021 1:00 AM

The practice of apprenticeship has a storied history that goes back to at least the Code of Hammurabi in ancient Babylon. The Romans also saw the value of craftsmen passing down their trades to the next generation, and guilds in the Middle Ages centered around a master/apprentice model. There’s a simple reason this model has been around for thousands of years.

It works.

“It makes it so employees are earning while learning,” said Michelle Stout, apprenticeship coordinator for Workforce Programs Administration at the Idaho Department of Labor. “And for the employer, there are increases in productivity and retention.”

The newest addition to apprenticeship programs at North Idaho College’s Workforce Training Center is Certified Nursing Assistant. The program went online last fall and is recognized as a U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship. It joins a list of more traditional apprenticeship programs offered through the Workforce Training Center, such as HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), electrical and plumbing.

The NIC Workforce Training Center collaborates with several employers in the area to offer the apprenticeship program. Grant money is available from the state labor department for employers, apprentices and NIC. Employers and NIC receive funding for running the program and apprentices can receive money for equipment needs. Apprentices are also eligible for scholarships through NIC, and the license some earn is a federal license that is valid all over the country.

Often, employees who are already on the job will begin an NIC apprenticeship program to learn more about their field, increasing their value to the company, which can lead to increased pay. Christal Champagne-Cave and Mariane Bustarde both work at Life Care Center of Post Falls. Champagne-Cave has been employed there for a year and a half and Bustarde began working there in December 2020. They started taking CNA classes at the Workforce Training Center recently.

“Working at Life Care, I get much more hands-on experience while taking classes,” Champagne-Cave said.

Mark Scroggin, executive director at Life Care Center of Coeur d’Alene, said he’s already seen some success stories since the company partnered with the NIC Workforce Training Center and the Idaho Department of Labor. Along with the CNA Apprenticeship program, his company has developed an apprenticeship program for the Activities Director position as well.

“It’s not just CNAs,” Scroggin said. “It’s a group effort. We have lead CNAs who put them under their wing. Along with a staff coordinator, it really makes it a supportive environment.”

For more information on the NIC apprenticeship, as either a prospective apprentice or an employer who would like to participate, visit www.nic.edu/wtc or call 208-769-3333.