Durham students learn about opportunities through apprenticeships

November 9, 2017
Raleigh-Durham JATC apprentice Brandon Wesley shares his experience with a student and parent.

“Earn while you learn” was the opportunity highlighted for more than 100 high school students and parents/guardians at an Apprenticeship Durham information session Nov. 8.

“Apprenticeships offer young people the opportunity to earn money while they train for a profession on the job,” said Ondrea Austin, lead workforce coordinator for Durham Public Schools Career and Technical Education, which hosted the event.

“Many apprenticeships require only a high school diploma. Students take related courses at community colleges, often at no cost, and work toward post-secondary credentials. And best of all, apprenticeships often lead to permanent employment,” she said.

Students heard from local company representatives about a range of careers offered through their apprenticeships programs, from machine technicians, electricians and construction professionals to medical coders and health information managers.

Bryant-Durham Electric Co. Inc.’s apprenticeship program, for instance, offers a four-year program that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Apprentices receive pay and benefits, and are evaluated for raises every six months. Graduates typically earn $17-$18 an hour upon graduation, and their training could lead to careers as electricians, foremen, supervisors, project managers, estimators, executives and owners.

Companies benefit because “we can train these apprentices in the way we do business,” said Tommy Britt, recruiter/training instructor the program, who joined Bryant-Durham through its apprenticeship program. “We get an educated person who wants to do this type of work. If they put in the time, we know they want to do it properly.”

Duke University Health System, Durham General Contractors Association, GSK, Raleigh-Durham JATC and Riggs-Harrod Builders also participated in the information event.

Apprenticeships are a key area of focus for Made in Durham’s work to build an education-to-career system that provides many pathways to careers for Durham youth. The goal is to ensure that all young people graduate from high school, earn a post-secondary credential that is valued by the marketplace, and secure a career by the age of 25. Apprenticeships provide training and industry credentials that can lead to sustainable careers.

Apprenticeship Durham is a collaborative effort organized by the Durham Workforce Development Board, N.C. Community College System, Durham Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education (CTE), Durham Technical Community College and Made in Durham focused on expanding apprenticeship programs and opportunities. The collaborative is evolving into an employer consortium of companies that operate or are developing apprenticeship programs.

For more information on the growing numbers of apprenticeship opportunities, visit the CTE website at www.dpsnc.net/cte.

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Made in Durham is a community partnership of educators, business, government, nonprofits, youth and young adults mobilized around a shared vision that all of Durham’s youth will complete high school and a postsecondary credential and begin a rewarding career by the age of 25.
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