The registered student apprenticeship program is a vital part of training in Central Virginia’s Region 2000. Employers in the Lynchburg area have for years been looking to student apprenticeship as a way to hire and train the region’s future workforce. The job opportunities for young people are virtually unlimited, with over 300 different approved programs in fields such as automotive service, construction trades, machining, information technology, cosmetology, culinary arts, etc.
An aspect which tends to excite many student apprentices is the fact that they are getting hands-on training while still in high school. This gives many high school graduates an edge when entering the job market. A large number of student apprentices will complete their program with the same employer throughout the duration of their training, in addition to receiving the journeyman card for their trade.
The student apprenticeship programs require the involvement of parents, as well as high school counselors, vocational/career directors, employers, and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. It is not unusual to find when registering student apprentices that their parent at one time also went through an apprenticeship program.
Southern Air, Inc., electrical/mechanical contractors, is an employee-owned company that understands the value of student apprenticeship. In 1959, they registered their first apprentice; since then, they have completed hundreds of journeymen cards. At present, they employ over 700 people and currently have 75 of those in a registered apprenticeship program. Two of their most recent graduates, Michael Robinson and Joshua Davis, began their training while in high school in Bedford County in 1999. In the fall of 2004, they completed the electrical program and received their journeyman cards. Dennis Irvin, HR manager and training coordinator for Southern Air, recently shared the excitement of watching young people go through their program and move on to be lead mechanics and supervisors on multi-million dollar jobs. Southern Air will generally hire twenty-plus high school students in the summer and work with them through the completion of high school.
Over the past twelve years in Central Virginia, there have been close to 500 high school students entered as Registered Apprentices from five counties and the City of Lynchburg. To learn more about Registered Student Apprenticeship, contact your local representative in the Department of Labor and Industry by visiting our web site www.doli.virginia.gov.
By: Wendell Walker, Apprenticeship Field Representative
Virginia Department of Labor and Industry
Lynchburg Field Office