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Gov. Little to visit with high schoolers about proposed Launch workforce training program

RIGBY, Idaho (KIFI) – Governor Brad Little will visit with high school students in Kuna, Twin Falls, and Rigby Thursday to reinforce the benefits of the proposed Launch workforce training program.

The program would make available $8,500 to qualifying Idaho high school seniors starting in 2024 to help pay for enrollment in an Idaho-based education or training program geared toward careers in high demand in our state – “real world” professions such as nursing, truck driving, information technology, electricians, welding, teaching, construction, finance professionals, mechanics, plumbing, and others.

“We want Idaho kids working in good Idaho jobs. From the start, my goal has been to make Idaho the place where our children and grandchildren choose to stay. Launch helps us get there,” Governor Little said.

Two-thirds of workers in Idaho are employed by small businesses with fewer than 100 employees. Information from the Idaho Department of Labor shows Idaho is missing an opportunity to get students into high-demand careers with our employers. In 2022, Idaho’s severe worker shortage saw an average of more than 56,000 open positions, representing an economy underutilized.

“Idaho’s severe worker shortage could be greatly reduced if every high school senior were to ‘go on’ and achieve the exact skills and knowledge needed to fill one of these high demand open positions. Everywhere I go, employers tell me they struggle with one thing – hiring skilled workers to fill open jobs, and most often those jobs require advanced training after high school,” Governor Little said. “Launch is about good old fashioned pragmatic policy – we have a problem, and we’re looking to solve it.”

Idaho is expected to graduate approximately 23,000 high school students this year. Most graduates of state universities and community colleges stay to work in the state or area where they received their education or training after high school.

In the November 2022 election, the voters of Idaho overwhelmingly approved the $80 million for in-demand career training passed by the Idaho Legislature and the Governor during the 2022 extraordinary session last year.

“When 80-percent or four out of five voters agree we need get workers trained for the jobs we have open, to me that amounts to a mandate from the people,” Governor Little said.

The Launch bill passed the Idaho House of Representatives last week and is awaiting action in the Idaho Senate.

“We have momentum on Launch, and we will get it across the finish line. Launch will be transformative for students and Idaho businesses. We want to do everything we can to create opportunity for our young people to live, work, and raise their families in Idaho,” Governor Little said.

Governor Little previously visited with students in Middleton about Launch in January, and Lt. Governor Scott Bedke visited with high schoolers in Idaho Falls and Twin Falls last week. Almost all students who gave feedback said they were thinking about entering an education or training program for an in-demand career but the cost to complete a program weighs heavily on their decision.

Article Topic Follows: Idaho

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Evan Thomason

Evan is the weekend meteorologist and reporter.

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