In a world of high employment and labor shortages, firms around the country are struggling to recruit new employees. One contractor in Indiana is taking steps to change that.

The Jack Laurie Group, a company that specializes in commercial and residential flooring, has created what it calls "the nation's only merit shop floor covering apprenticeship program," according to a Jan. 18 press release.

“This is a huge opportunity for the entire construction industry and the men and women who strive to make it their profession, and we are optimistic about the impact the program will have on the local economy,” said Tom Postell, Jack Laurie vice president of operations and chief architect of the program. “I feel responsible for finding, developing and supporting the next generation of construction tradespeople here at Jack Laurie Group and in our communities. Ultimately, the success of our company depends upon it.”

The Jack Laurie Group, with guidance from the Flooring Contractors Association (FCICA), created a four-year curriculum that culminates with a graduate's certificate as a trade journeyman. Participants are paid for on-the-job training, and have the opportunity to also earn an associate's degree from Vincennes University free of charge.

The apprenticeship has been certified by the U.S. Department of Labor, and Jack Laurie says it is the first time the department has approved an apprenticeship in Indiana created by a private employer. All that's required to enter the program is a high school diploma or GED.

More information about the program can be found here.