RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) has issued over $140,000 in grants to local colleges to establish teacher apprenticeship programs in a move designed to combat a shortage of teachers across the commonwealth.

The programs will allow school divisions to work with universities to help teacher’s aides, substitutes and other non-licensed educational staff get their licenses through apprenticeship programs.

“The Apprenticeship Planning Grants build on existing residency programs and local grow-your-own recruitment programs as a means of expanding the teacher pipeline,” State Superintendent Jilian Balow said.

Central Virginia, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie and Hopewell will take part in a pilot of the program with Virginia State University — kick-started with an $11,688 grant from the VDOE.

Virginia Commonwealth University will also participate in the program, supporting prospective teaching apprentices in Prince William, Fairfax and Surry Counties.

Many Virginia localities have struggled to fully staff their schools, and a 2021 study found that — adjusted for cost-of-living — Virginia was the worst state in the country for teacher pay.