Legislators look at how Apprenticeships and innovation could help Wyoming

Updated: Feb. 9, 2023 at 7:00 PM CST
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - As legislators finish up cross-over, which is where they finalize the third readings of their chamber bills to move them across to the other chambers, we spoke to some officials about what bills still need to get done.

On Thursday, Legislators focused on Apprenticeship programs and innovation.

As shortages in the workforce, and costs of living rise, student debt grows, layoffs and recession loom.

There is a couple of bills moving through the legislature that may help.

The Public Works Apprenticeship programs and the Apprenticeship and Jobs Training Promotion bills could be the stopgap Wyoming needs.

”Our workers get trained and then they leave. The apprenticeship program will help raise the standards to allow young people the opportunity to enter into a trade field where they can become masters at the work that they do,” said Tammy Johnson, Executive Director of Wyoming State AFL-CIO.

These bills look to create relationships between the Department of Education, Workforce Services, and Trades to bridge that gap between students, unemployment and healthy paychecks.

”By beginning with a a wage that is a much higher than our current minimum wage. These workers can begin to work in a field and get trained in a field where they move up. With the union apprenticeship programs every thousand hours of training that they get they move up in the pay scale. They are also receiving health care benefits and retirement benefits while they are doing that,” said Johnson.

With several public work projects coming to the state, like the nuclear reactor and ground-based missile defense system, there’s a shortage of over 2,500 skilled workers, not including teachers or medical professionals.

”A rising tide floats all boats. If we would raise the minimum wages in Wyoming then we would see other wages come up in other industries . So if you want to build a workforce in Wyoming we have to start having a conversation about the wages in Wyoming, because repressed wages lead to a repressed workforce,” said Johnson.

Both bills passed the third reading.

Next, the Wyoming Stable Token Act passed the senate and was introduced to the house.

This bill would help create a state-based digital currency.

”What we want to do is to provide something where you can have that trust by ensuring an organization like the state of Wyoming is actually holding a true asset a U.S. dollar backing that token,” said Sen. Chris Rothfuss.

Additionally, there would be a commission for oversight partnering with the Governor, Treasurer and Auditor offices for the administration and operation.

”We are trying to create this framework, this eco system that encourages economic development in the state of Wyoming on innovative financial technology,” said Rothfuss.

Legislators say they will be finalizing over 130 bills over the next 3 weeks.