Apprenticeship program gives students real world experience

  • Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ray White/Georgetown County School District Brian Rauschenbach of Apprentice Carolina, right, hands over program materials to the principals of Georgetown County’s four high schools, from left, Michelle Greene, David Hammel, Craig Evans and Richard Neal, at a school board meeting last month.

Georgetown County high school students will soon be able to get paid to learn a trade, or get paid to try a career path they are considering studying in college.

The expansion of Apprenticeship Carolina into the county was approved by the Georgetown County School Board last month.

“This is really very exciting,” said board chairman Jim Dumm.

“The enthusiasm of the school board and the chairman of the School Board was really superb,” said Brian Rauschenbach, Youth Apprenticeship coordinator for Apprenticeship Carolina. “The superintendent is 100 percent on board with this, whole-heartedly.”

Apprenticeship Carolina, a division of the S.C. Technical College System, has run an adult program for more than a decade, but just added a youth program last year. A dozen school districts in the state have youth programs, and several more, including Williamsburg and Horry counties, are in the process of starting one.

More than 630 businesses are active in the apprenticeship program, which more than 9,000 adults and youths have either completed, or are currently active in.

Rauschenbach said the program is a way for businesses to grow their own workforce.

“It creates a pipeline of talent that is sustainable,” he said.

“These are opportunities for the community to keep their youth in town,” said Teri Luther, who oversees the program in 11 counties, including Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg.

There are three parts to the youth program: supervised on-the-job learning, education, and scalable wage progression.

Local businesses provide the on-the-job learning. No business is too small.

“They can have one person and it could be the apprentice,” Luther said.

One requirement is that the apprentice be paid at least minimum wage to start out.

Businesses that sign up with Apprenticeship Carolina qualify for tax breaks, and students in the program come with liability insurance provided by Apprenticeship Carolina.

Some of the industries targeted for the program include tourism, transportation, manufacturing and technology, health care, energy and construction.

Eileen Fleming-Patonay, coordinator of the Waccamaw Regional Education Center, who helped bring the program to Georgetown County, said culinary arts, manufacturing and tourism would be three key industries in Georgetown County.

CVS has already signed up for a pharmaceuticals apprenticeship in health science. Fleming-Patonay said that apprenticeship would work for students who want to be pharmacists or doctors.

3V had four students working for them last summer, but now they're going to switch to the apprenticeship program. They're not just looking for manufacturing apprenticeships, they also looking for students in the accounting department.

Rauschenbach, Luther and Fleming-Patonay stressed that the program offers something for almost all students.

Some teens may want to complete an apprenticeship before they spend four years in college, only to find out they're not happy in their chosen field.

Other teens might not want to go to college, so will use the apprenticeship to get a job.

“Apprenticeships provide that real world experience,” Rauschenbach said.

The high schools cover the job-related education. Each principal was given the program materials last month. Some classes will be offered at just one school, while others will be offered at all four.

“It definitely sounds like a positive program, a practical program for our students,” said Richard Neal, principal at Carvers Bay High. “We're looking forward to full implementation of the program.”

Carvers Bay's apprenticeship curriculum will include building construction, landscape management, culinary arts and nursing assistant.

Neal said the program will benefit the school's academic standards and better prepare students for the workforce.

“In the long run it will be a popular program,” he added.

Fleming-Patonay said the program's scheduling is flexible; students can do their apprenticeships after school, on weekends, or even just during the summer.

There is also flexibility on where students can apprentice. She recently got a call from a business in Conway that needs welders. She said it wouldn't be that far for Carvers Bay or Georgetown students to travel.

Businesses interested in offering an apprenticeship should contact Fleming- Patonay at 843-436-7071 or epatonay@scpathways.org, or Luther at 803-896-5206.

For more information on Apprenticeship Carolina, go to www.apprenticeshipcarolina.com.

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