Roundtable discussion focuses on connecting Idaho kids to Idaho jobs

Speaker Bedke was impressed with young students at the roundtable discussion and thinks Idaho’s future is in good hands.
Published: Oct. 12, 2022 at 6:44 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —Idaho is one of the fastest growing states in the nation for population and economically. Idaho employers are hungry for qualified labor, and lawmakers are trying to help them by finding solutions to connect Idaho kids to Idaho jobs.

On Wednesday Republican lawmakers Scott Bedke and Laura Lickely, along with business leaders and students participated in a roundtable discussion on how to connect Idaho students to Idaho jobs. Idaho House Speaker Bedke said currently only 37% of high school seniors are seeking post graduate degrees or certificates. It was 50% before the pandemic. He says they would like to get that number up 60%.

“This is a little slippery but I think the disconnect is the one side doesn’t know what is available on the other side,” said Bedke. “There are a million reasons why it slipped. It’s time to get back to the business of getting our students a meaningful certificate, a meaningful degree, so they can get a great job.”

The House Speaker said the need for construction labor is so great in the state, and nationally, that a program called Six Figures, No Suit, is not waiting for the kids to come through some construction management program they are going straight to the high schools.

“Talking to coaches, talking to FFA advisors, and saying, ‘Give me kids that have good aptitude , that can pass a background test, and ill train them’.”

During the special legislative session lawmakers passed a bill that will provide $410 million of annual funding directly from the state’s sales tax to the public school income fund and in-demand careers fund.

Jerome High School Student Body President Ingrid Ramirez said language barriers for students is an issue in her school.

“I really wanted to make them aware of the lack of advertising and communication for Latino students and what they can do after high school,” said Ramirez. “Getting those parents involved as well and having Latinos who speak Spanish and who can communicate with those parents so their kids are not going in blind after high school”

Additionally, she said her school could use more counselors, as the ratio of counselors to students is disproportional.

“If you bring in more of those counselors to help with all students, I think that will fix the majority of the problem,” Ramirez said.

Twin Falls student body president Stockton Stevens thinks the cost of college is the biggest barrier for students.

“One thing I wanted to talk to the board about is I think money for scholarships would help a lot of kids and give them an incentive to go on,” said Stevens. “kids who shoved it aside and said, ' I’ll just work. I need the money’.”

Bedke said he thinks solving college affordability is part of a larger scope for the state. There is no sense in doing a scholarship, if students have to wait in line to get into a program, he said. Bedke believes it is going to take a mix of financial help but also expanding the hard facilities.

“As we heard from the president of CSI, many of his programs are at capacity, so if we are going to expand that, it is going to mean new buildings, new teachers, ect,” said Bedke. “Not only will there be a palace for scholarships but there will also be a palace for expanding the basic infrastructure at the college.”

At the end of the day Speaker Bedke was impressed with young students at the roundtable discussion and thinks Idaho’s future is in good hands.

“They were able to offer important insights on how we can improve our system,” Bedke said.