Johnson County to create new apprenticeship program

The new program aims to create a more diverse workplace at the county and will begin with the creation of an EMT apprenticeship with the Johnson County Ambulance Service.


Emily Nyberg

Johnson County Emergency Medical Services team leaves the Johnson County Ambulance and Medical Examiner building in Iowa City to respond to a call on Thursday, April 6, 2023.

Alejandro Rojas, News Reporter

Johnson County is set to launch a new apprenticeship program in June, with the program creating its first position with the Johnson County Ambulance Service.

The county allocated $800,000 of ARPA funds over fiscal 2023 to 2026 to fund the emergency medical technician apprenticeship. The program was created to give more diverse and underrepresented community members the opportunity to find a job in the county.

Johnson County Ambulance Service Director Fiona Johnson said the money will be used to buy textbooks, uniforms, and anything else needed for the apprenticeship. The creation of the program has been in action since the Johnson County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the program in October 2021.

Johnson County DEI coordinator Paola Guayara said at a March 8 supervisors meeting that the ambulance department was selected as the first department to hire an apprentice in the program.

“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.

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This was backed up by Johnson, who said the department’s organizational structure lent itself to the program.

“We’re very accustomed to bringing in students, riders, members of the community, it’s just something that’s part of our organizational structure,” Johnson said. “And so, this is something that we’re very comfortable with.”

Since being selected for the program, the ambulance service has worked closely with the Johnson County Human Resources Department, Guayara, and the Iowa Workforce Development to create the first responder position and its standards.

Johnson said community members interested in applying did not need any prior experience in emergency response, and that an hourly wage was included with the position.

As for the future of the program, Guayara said at the March 8 meeting that the program was working on creating an additional position with the county’s Information Technology Department, as well as looking at making more positions in other departments available in the future.

Guayara also said once the program begins, it will be one of the only apprenticeship programs of its type at the local government level, something that supervisor V Fixmer-Oraiz was appreciative of.

“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.