Local Businesses Embrace Apprenticeship Opportunities
With the goal of connecting students to jobs and strengthening a local workforce, Oconee Fall Line Technical College (OFTC) and community partners are embracing apprenticeship programs which allow students to attend OFTC to obtain training while employed and working to meet a company’s growing workforce demands.
In 2018, Erdrich USA was the first company to adopt this style of program with OFTC. “Erdrich’s apprenticeship was in cooperation with our Precision Machining and Manufacturing program,” shared Roy Williams, OFTC’s Dean of Trades & Industrial programs.
“Apprenticeships are a form of work study,” Williams shared. “The apprentice is an employee of the company and meets all the criteria of a regular employee. They are also registered as a student in a related program at OFTC.”
The program works to meet the needs of the employer through open communication between the OFTC advisor and the company to identify necessary skills for the job.
“The advisor then develops a work flow that allows the student to master all required competencies,” Williams added. “Some can be met on the job and certified by the company appointed mentor and the rest are completed in the traditional class setting.”
And the benefits of this type of program is two-fold. “The company accrues no cost, an understaffed position is filled, and hopefully a well-trained long-term employee is cultivated,” Williams said.
And the students earn while they learn. “Most have a diploma and guarantee of employment at the conclusion of the program,” he added.
At the end of the apprenticeship, in addition to an OFTC credential the student also receives a nationally recognized certificate from DOL stating they’ve successfully completed the apprenticeship program.
The Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) has embraced this Department of Labor (DOL) model apprenticeship and OFTC is an approved sponsor.
Recently, OFTC’s T&I faculty hosted local business members for a presentation on the DOL Apprenticeship Model and the German (GCATT) Apprenticeship Model given by TCSG’s Holly Free.
“Local businesses who employ OFTC students in their respective fields attended the presentation in Dublin,” Williams said. “These companies either already participate in the apprenticeship program or are considering a commitment to participate.”
One of the benefits for employers is the simplicity of the model, Williams said. “The process is simple for all involved. Paperwork is minimal and there is no cost to anyone.”
“While some companies are reluctant to embrace this concept because they are looking for an immediate return on investment, the payoff is in a well-trained workforce,” he added.
And while the apprenticeship model is open to traditional students and current employees of a participating company, one group taking full advantage of the opportunity is high school dual enrollment students.
“Currently we have students from three high schools in Laurens county and one home homeschooler who are actively participating in the Erdrich apprenticeship program,” Williams said.