Build a skilled workforce with a registered apprenticeship program ... more
Gaston Community College was the first two-year college in North Carolina to hold standards for apprenticeship. Apprenticeship 321 started in September 2015 with just an advanced manufacturing program. Beginning in 2019, they partnered with a local hospital to offer a CNA II pathway, which was quickly followed by paramedic medicine and CNA I apprenticeships.
Jill Hendrix is currently the director of apprenticeships and work-based learning at Gaston College. “Small, medium, and large companies come in and out of the apprenticeship program as needed,” says Hendrix. “I’m currently working with 15 partner companies that offer 14 pathways for students to choose from. The apprenticeships are amazing career opportunities for students; and they allow employers to proactively manage the skills gap.”
Hendrix explains that there are grant options available to apprentices and employers to cover the cost of education. As an example, a grant from the Duke Foundation offers tuition, fees and book assistance for those pursuing careers in advanced manufacturing. Other industries offer similar educational grants, and employers typically provide tuition reimbursement. This can mean apprentices often end up earning degrees and/or certificates at no cost to them.
“If you’re working at a job and decide to go back to school on your own, you don’t always have support,” adds Hendrix. “With apprenticeship, students are placed in supportive work environments and have access to employer mentors and success coaches. I encourage businesses to start or expand their apprenticeship programs and students (and their parents) to take a good look at apprenticeship as a career path.”