South Georgia Insider

Lowndes High School & Ace Electric: An Apprenticeship Model:

July 28, 2021 Thressea H. Boyd, Host Season 2 Episode 23
South Georgia Insider
Lowndes High School & Ace Electric: An Apprenticeship Model:
Show Notes

We’ve seen the mass number of "help wanted" signs displayed across businesses of all sizes. And, even before the COVID-19 workforce disruption, the need for specifically skilled workers reached critical levels, with 40 percent of U.S. employers unable to meet production demands. 

Apprenticeships use a  "grow their own" approach.  According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there have been more than 1.9 million new apprentices since FY 2011, up by 38 % from the previous decade.

Today's guests are Nichole Shanks, workforce development manager with Ace Electric, and Jason VanNus, systems coordinator for work-based learning and youth apprenticeship at Lowndes High School.

The fall 2019 issue of South Georgia Business Magazine,  "Apprenticeship Programs Are Filling the Workforce Gap," highlights an innovative apprenticeship program between Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, Ace Electric, and Lowndes High School.

In this podcast, we're going to get an update and dive a little deeper into how apprenticeships can put high school students on the right track toward well-paying careers. 

"For every one person that enters the skills trade, we are losing three to four every year due to retirement or aging out," says Shanks. "We aren't getting enough young people out of high school interested in the skills trade. We wanted to get involved before they graduated high school.

It’s time to re-think the hiring process. "The labor shortage exists with the current avenues. We have to go outside the current avenue to get a new crop of students," VanNus says.

He explains that an apprenticeship aligns with the student's curriculum and career goals. "[With an] apprenticeship they are learning how to be productive in the workforce and also specifically identified skills and traits that are going to be in the field they want."

The first Lowndes High School and Ace Electric summer apprenticeship program started with nine students, and three are now full-time employees with Ace Electric. 

As part of a dual enrollment program, the students split time between classes at Wiregrass Georgia Technical College and Lowndes High School while also working at Ace Electric.  

Georgia is a leader in work-based learning, including HB 402 that encourages companies to provide worked-based learning opportunities for 16-year-olds and older. According to VanNus, the employer can receive up to a 5% discount on worker compensation premiums, depending up the number of students hired.

Shanks says the old model wasn't working, "It wasn't working for your local economic development. The students would go away to whatever school and then never come back. Here we are forming relationships and providing employment from a young age. A lot of times, they are going to stay in their local communities and be a productive member of the workforce."

Join us next time as we continue to promote South Georgia as a great place to live, work, play, and visit.

Thanks to our sponsor Smalltown Broadcasting and WDDQ, home of the Scott James Matheson Show, where you can listen to live from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., Monday through Friday on Talk 92.1 or through the TuneIn app

South Georgia Insider is produced by Spencer Van Horn, Smalltown Broadcasting.