Cape Fear Community College's apprenticeship programs benefit both CFCC students and local industries. Apprenticeships are becoming more popular due to increasing demand for a skilled workforce and rising higher education costs. CFCC prioritizes reciprocal relationships with local employers – providing essential training to students that meets the needs of businesses and industries in the Cape Fear region.
Nationwide, communities are experiencing labor shortages as many skilled workers are retiring, creating a need for a well-prepared labor force. Apprenticeships are proving to be a valuable opportunity for students to gain employment in various specialized trades.
I am proud of the many ways Cape Fear Community College works to meet our students' and our community partners' needs. We currently offer formal Electrical, Electrical Line Worker, Fire Alarm Systems, Plumbing, and Pipefitting apprenticeships and are working on expanding our apprenticeship programs to include more areas of study.
What is an Apprenticeship?
An apprenticeship is a proven education and employment model that prepares students for a specific job while meeting a company's need to develop their future workforce. Students can obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction, and credentials, all at the same time.
"Apprenticeships are an opportunity for individuals to acquire craftsman-level skills from experts in the field," said John Downing, CFCC Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development. "It has been a traditional approach passed down from Europe and Asia and combines practical hands-on skills and academic theory. Apprenticeships are a win-win for both the apprentice and the employer."
Why Are Apprenticeships Important?
"As you may know, the construction industry in southeastern North Carolina is booming," said Burton W. Vezina II, president of the Cape Fear Electrical Contractors Association, Inc. "Every day, contractors are seeking trades-people. Since the downturn of 2009-10, seasoned trade folk have retired or sought employment elsewhere. We who remain see the gap in experience and a significant reduction of people entering the trades. It's for this reason that the CFECA has partnered with CFCC to spark interest in, train, and employ the next generation(s) of trade professionals."
How Apprenticeships Benefit the Employer
"The employer gets a chance to develop the employee through an apprenticeship and ensure they have the right skills to help them be successful," said Downing. "Employers know that apprentices have on-the-job training and classroom instruction. Experience plus knowledge is a powerful combination."
"An educated apprentice saves the employer on-the-job training time," said David Akerley, CFCC Apprenticeship Instructor. "Apprenticeship programs provide the apprentice with hands-on tasks, safety practices, and knowledge that often exceeds what they would typically receive on the job."
"As employees retire or move on, it is critical to have prospective employees whose training aligns with our validated work readiness standards and competencies, ready to enter or re-enter the workforce," said Eric Thigpen, Regional HSE & Training Director for MasTec USG East Region.
How Apprenticeships Benefit the Apprentice
Students earn while they learn in an apprenticeship. "Apprentices get on-the-job, comprehensive training in the skills they'll need to succeed and advance their careers," said Downing. "If a student needs to earn income, they can do so while they are learning the skills of the trade on the job site. Employers often pay for the cost of training, which saves them tuition and books. As the apprentice completes each year, they get incremental pay increases that encourage them to continue. Additionally, apprentices usually move up the pay scale faster than employees entering without a program."
"Students who receive apprenticeship education and acquire certification have proof of a well-rounded education in the chosen field that's appealing to employers," said Akerley.
Pursuing an Apprenticeship
CFCC is committed to providing competitive apprenticeship programs so individuals can gain the knowledge to set them apart and be a valuable employee with the opportunity to advance in their chosen field.
For anyone interested in CFCC apprenticeship programs, visit cfcc.edu/apprenticeships. CFCC is also always looking to partner with new companies to provide our students with as many resources and job opportunities as possible. Any interested employers may contact 910-362-7386.
Jim Morton became President of Cape Fear Community College in April 2018. Prior to becoming President, Mr. Morton served as Executive Vice President and as Vice President of Business and Financial Services at CFCC. Cape Fear Community College is the 6th largest community college of the 58 community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System.
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