Charleston’s reputation as an International “Hospitality Center” is well established. The readers of Conde Naste have voted Charleston the No. 1 Top US City for the past 4 years.
What is less well recognized is that Charleston has become a more diverse economy with a strong Health-Care Industry and growing Manufacturing and Information Technology Sectors. Economic projections are for 25,000 new jobs in the Charleston area by 2018. Many of these new jobs will be in the Manufacturing Sector.
A comprehensive 2014 Talent Demand Study shows that many of these new jobs are being filled by workers who move to the area from out-of-state. The Study also identified gaps in the local education system that need to be addressed to prepare local students for careers in these high-demand jobs.
A partnership of local educators, employers and community leaders came together to create a unique alternative education program for local High School students. Trident Technical College, The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, six local manufacturers, and the 4 local school districts have created the region’s first US Department of Labor Youth Apprenticeship Program.
The Youth Apprenticeship Carolina Program began in August 2014 with thirteen 11th and 12th students (from Fort Dorchester HS, Garrett Academy of Technology, Goose Creek HS, R.B. Stall HS, Wando HS, and West Ashley HS) who attend High School classes in the mornings and dual-credit Industrial Technology classes at Trident Tech in the afternoons. The 13 students also work part-time as Youth Apprentices, gaining on-the-job experience and wages, at six local manufacturing companies (IFA Rotorion, Robert Bosch, VTL Group, Hubner Manufacturing, Cummins Turbo Technologies, and Detyens Shipyard). The Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce provided scholarships to these 13 students for the TTC courses.
Upon successful completion of the two-year program the students will receive a High School Diploma, a certificate for 4 semesters of TTC courses, 2000 hours of paid on-the-job experience, and a US Department of Labor certificate for completion of an Apprenticeship Program in “Basic Industrial Technician”. These students will be prepared to start a career in Industrial Maintenance.
The “Basic Industrial Technician” Program will grow in August 2015 with the addition of a second cohort of students. Also, in August 2015 a second Apprenticeship Program, “Industrial Machining”, will begin. Already 5 additional manufacturers (Zeltwanger, Briteline Extrusions, Venture Aerobearing, Aero Precision Products, and Torqtek) have agreed to provide jobs for the 2015 student cohorts.
This manufacturing initiative has also created an interest in providing future Youth Apprenticeship Programs in “Hotel Operations”, “Culinary”, and “Computer Networking and Programming”. Currently there are a total of 38 employers who have agreed to provide apprenticeship jobs to students in the Manufacturing, Hospitality, and Information Technology sectors.
The program can only grow to the extent to which local employers provide on-the-job training opportunities to the students. For more information about the program or to become a participating employer contact Mitchell Harp, TTC Director of Apprenticeship Programs, 843.574.6979 or Lara McKenna, TTC, 843.574.6918. #YouthApprenticeshipCarolina