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Orem starts apprentice program to help fill job vacancies

By Genelle Pugmire - | Dec 10, 2021

Courtesy Orem City

Working with asphalt and street crews is just on of the jobs participants in Orem's new apprenticeship program will try out.

Keri Rugg says she comes up with her wildest ideas at 3 a.m. Her latest is one for the books and just might help Orem with its hiring conundrum.

Orem, like just about any other employer, is having trouble hiring or even getting people to apply for jobs — and when you have 10 openings in one department, you start to feel the pressure, according to Rugg, Orem’s human resources director.

“Just like everybody else, we are dealing with a tight labor department,” Rugg said. “People are not liking labor jobs, so we started an apprentice program for Public Works.”

Yes, Rugg admits, just like the “olden” days, Orem is offering six-month paid apprenticeships with full government benefits. No experience is needed.

Basically, applicants hired will work at the various open positions — there are 10 — throughout the Public Works department, and after six months the city will decide which job is best suited to the apprentice.

Courtesy Orem City

Working with water reclamation could be one of the jobs an apprentice would try in Orem's new program.

The apprenticeships opened Nov. 29 and applications are being accepted. The city has already received 15 applications and interviews are starting.

“For eight months, we had no qualified applicants for those jobs,” Rugg said. So she and staff decided to do on-the-job training and teach these apprentices what they need to know.

Pay starts at $17 an hour with a 50-cent raise after three months. At six months, they are hired as a trained technician and pay moves to $18.59 an hour, plus the benefits.

While places like fast food restaurants are upping their payroll game, Rugg is confident they can’t have better benefits.

“Del Taco can’t compete with Orem’s pension,” Rugg said. She did admit they probably make a better burrito, though.

The apprentices will work with concrete and asphalt crews, water reclamation, parks, water meters and anything else that is needed.

“We tried the apprenticeship with the building inspector earlier and it was wildly successful, so we thought we could try it with Public Works,” Rugg said.

Other cities have already heard about Orem’s program and have been calling to see if it is something they could do to get employees for their communities, Rugg said.

She is serious about hiring those who may not have been hirable before.

Rugg reiterated, “No experience or certifications are needed to apply, and it is anticipated that they will transition into a technician or operator position after six months.”

For those who might be interested in trying the apprenticeship route, you can apply online at jobs.orem.org.

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