Learning the Tools of the Trade: Apprenticeship in North Carolina
With over 10,000 Baby Boomers reaching retirement age each day, businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with the demand for talent. It is more vital than ever to provide new employees with the necessary skills for long-term success. In order to effectively train this next generation of workers, companies in North Carolina are partnering with community colleges to develop apprenticeship programs that combine time in the classroom with on-the-job experience. Participants earn a competitive wage and graduate debt-free with a two-year degree, journeyman’s card, or other professional certification.
More than 350 of these programs are training 7,256 registered apprentices across our state. Over 300 different occupations are represented, including masonry workers, cybersecurity analysts, electricians, welders, mechanics, and logistic engineers. Both large and small companies are collaborating with the community college system, developing customized plans that fulfill specific needs and eliminate skill gaps. Reimbursements through ApprenticeshipNC can cover up to 100% of the cost of this training and most employers see a complete return on investment within a few months. Apprentices are also much more likely to stay with the firm after graduating, averaging a 91% rate of retention.
In addition to work experience and a free education, participants’ wages progressively increase during the course of the program. Colleges offer classes that compliment work schedules, allowing students to learn a concept in the morning and apply it to a real-world situation during an afternoon shift. Companies are also encouraged to pair apprentices with employee mentors, who have the opportunity to pass their knowledge and experience to a new generation. On average, graduates earn a starting salary of $50,000 and can progress to the “journeyman’s rate,” the ultimate wage in their profession.
Apprenticeship programs are steadily growing in our community. MANN+HUMMEL Purolator, an oil, air, and fuel filter manufacturer in Fayetteville, was faced with a shortage of skilled tool and die makers. In 2015, the company partnered with Fayetteville Technical Community College and ApprenticeshipNC to create a four-year program that is now training seven of its employees. Ke’Monte Fisher, an apprentice in his third year, spoke about his experience. “I was originally working at MANN+HUMMEL to pay my way through college. However, the prospect of massive debt for tuition and living costs was a daunting one. Going down the trade route means I can work and earn while I study. It’s an easier and more comfortable way to go, as there is no added debt when I qualify. Although there is no pressure to stay with the company, I would like to continue my career with MANN+HUMMEL. It’s a great place to work and I see opportunities to succeed and develop.”
To learn more about apprenticeship programs in North Carolina, visit www.apprenticeshipnc.com.