WNC Community Colleges Partner to Create Apprenticeship Program
A coalition of community colleges in Western North Carolina – A-B Tech as the lead, Blue Ridge Community College, Haywood Community College, Isothermal Community College, and Southwestern Community College have received an ApprenticeshipNC Collaboration and Expansion grant from the North Carolina Community College System to implement a regional apprenticeship program.
“U.S. manufacturers need workers, but are reporting serious gaps in worker’s skills,” said Kevin Kimrey, Economic and Workforce Development Director at A-B Tech. “Many economic and workforce development professionals, educators, federal and state government entities, and European-based companies have suggested apprenticeship programs as a possible solution. Many European-based companies, where apprenticeship is prevalent, have located in the United States in recent years, and many, particularly automotive manufacturers, have located in the Southeast.”
The one-year grant will be used to hire an individual to spearhead an industry-led program that will put structure around an effort to increase worker’s skills and advance apprenticeship throughout the region. The money appropriated by the grant will be used to fund a position completely devoted to assembling an industry coalition, facilitating the construction of a regional apprenticeship program, and then working with all of the region’s educational, workforce, and community partners to connect with K-12 students and their parents, adult learners in the region’s community colleges and universities, the incumbent workforce, the dislocated workers and unemployed, the transitioning workforce, and veterans. The apprenticeship coordinator will be housed at A-B Tech and will be supervised by the college’s Director of Economic and Workforce Development.
“We are excited to partner with our regional colleges and workforce partners to advance apprenticeship in WNC. Engaging industry sectors such as healthcare and hospitality on the benefits of apprenticeship will be a top priority,” said Shelley White, Vice President for Economic and Workforce Development/Continuing Education at A-B Tech.
In North Carolina, several successful regional apprenticeship programs have been implemented in the Triangle, Greensboro, Charlotte and Gastonia areas. “One of the components that has made these programs successful is that they have either been led by industry, or industry has been heavily involved and championed each program.