New apprenticeship program from Johnson County aims to diversify workplace

The program will help create apprenticeship positions for “underestimated” members in the county, beginning with an EMT position with the county ambulance service.


Matt Sindt

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors listens to speakers at the Johnson County Administration Building Oct. 5, 2022.

Alejandro Rojas, News Reporter

Johnson County is aiming to diversify its workplace through a new apprenticeship program. 

The new program that was announced earlier on Wednesday at the Johnson County Board of Supervisors’ work session meeting was approved later Wednesday night. According to the work session agenda, the program aims to help “underestimated community members” find jobs with the county, creating a new diversified pipeline for employees.

The program will be funded using $200,000 in federal relief from American Rescue Plan Act money. The program will be funded for the same amount from fiscal 2023 to 2026, for a total of $800,000.

According to a document from the U.S. Treasury department, ARPA money can be used to fund programs that assist people of color, women, and low-income workers.

Paola Jaramillo Guayara, Johnson County diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator, said the program was in the works since before she joined the county in March 2022. She said the program was first identified after an internal needs assessment. 

The program would also be one of the only programs of its type by a local government, Guayara said.

The new program will start with an apprenticeship for an emergency medical technician at the county ambulance service. Guayara said the ambulance service was highlighted for the program thanks to its interest.

“The ambulance department was one of the departments that was highlighted as [one] that had culture and a real interest in diversifying their pipelines for employees and so we’re excited to partner with them and other stakeholders to get this approved by the state which is the point that we’re at right now,” she said.

The current goal is to hire at least one apprentice for the EMT program, although Guayara said there was work being done to create an IT position as well as work with other departments to create more positions.

The supervisors spoke in support of the program, and Supervisor Royceann Porter offered her thanks to staff for their work.

“I’d just like to say thank you all for the hard work because you guys have done a great job. You really have put a lot of work into this,” Porter said.

Supervisor V Fixmer-Oraiz shared a similar sentiment.

“I’m just incredibly impressed and super proud that we get to have one of the only local governments to have this type of apprenticeship program. It really sets us apart, and [I’m] just really grateful,” Fixmer-Oraiz said.