Two pre-apprenticeship programs offered at West Delaware High School will continue to expand learning through work opportunities for students.

This year West Delaware is offering a masonry pre-apprenticeship course through the school’s construction trades course. Next year they will add a meat cutting pre-apprenticeship that will be part of the food II course offered at school.

Edgewood-Colesburg students will also take advantage of the programs through West Delaware.

A pre-apprenticeship is a program or set of strategies designed to prepare individuals for entry into Register Apprenticeship Programs (RAP) or other job opportunities. While the programs have varied program elements, they place individuals on a pathway to employability through a RAP.

The masonry pre-apprenticeship program is supported by Seedorf Masonry and has been in place for the 2020-21 school year. “Seedorf approached us with the local building and trades union out of Marshalltown to set it up,” West Delaware High School Principal Tim Felderman explained. “It’s been a goal for years that we have either an apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship in each area of our career and technical education programs.”

That led to the meat cutting program, which will begin next year. Felderman said the school is supported by Fareway in Manchester, the Edgewood Locker and Off the Hoof in Delhi. That pre-apprenticeship will teach participants to identify cuts of meat, harvest meat, muscle development, food safety, processing, marketing, packaging methods, machinery and tools as well as an overview of the industry.

According to Felderman, both programs offer several advantages to students. “It’s a way to bring a lot more relevancy to our curriculum because there will be business people in the classroom with the students, along with opportunities for students to tour facilities such as the businesses. It’s just the opportunity to mentor with different individuals about what this type of career might look like.”

Christian Carper is the high school and middle school human services instructor at West Delaware and will be in charge of the meat cutting pre-apprenticeship. “I teach a meat unit in my advanced foods course,” he said. “I see some students who are really interested in it and have some sort of an interest in maybe taking it a step further. Hopefully, this is then an opportunity for those students to go on to an apprenticeship, increasing opportunities for students.”

Carper is also being trained in Iowa ServSafe, a national certification that teaches food safety and kitchen organization, allowing him to teach the course to his students. “Along with the pre-apprenticeship, I can teach the ServSafe certification. That would make students ahead of anyone else their age looking for a part-time job in the food industry.”

Felderman said having an apprenticeship is a requirement of a pre-apprenticeship program. “You need to have an apprenticeship built and designed first. You have your end goal established and backfill in the pre-apprenticeship.”

Felderman said that’s where the local support is so important. “We have those apprenticeships built at Fareway and I know the Edgewood Locker is also trying to build one as well.”

Felderman said the support from local businesses is key to the success of the programs. “It’s so important to have Fareway, the Edgewood Locker and Off the Hoof supporting this program.” He added that the Fareway corporate office in Boone is also assisting with the meat cutting program. “They have been heavily invested in a meat cutting apprenticeship at Boone High School. Now that West Delaware is on board, they want to see what they can do to help both schools. It’s a great partnership to have. The resources of two communities coming together helps students hopefully across the state of Iowa.”