Wake County residents can look forward to greater apprenticeship options and opportunities, thanks to WakeWorks, a new partnership between Wake Tech and Wake County. In a unanimous vote, the Wake County Board of Commissioners has approved funds of up to $500,000 per year to expand apprenticeship opportunities and scholarships in skilled trades and technician programs, where demand is high.
“We’re proud to partner with Wake Tech on this exciting program, which will address the current shortage of technical workers in our county while making college affordable,” said Commissioner Matt Calabria. “WakeWorks will give students the opportunity to learn a trade while earning an income – a combination that will ultimately lead to a better life.”
With the county funding, Wake Tech will cover tuition, fees, books, uniforms, and tools for students accepted into apprenticeship or pre-apprenticeship programs.
The college plans to launch five new apprenticeships next fall: Automotive Technician and Paramedic degree programs, and Apartment Maintenance Technician, Tower Technician and Building & Code Inspector non-degree programs. WakeWorks will also help expand existing apprenticeship opportunities in welding, plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and HVAC. New apprenticeship programs in IT and health sciences are planned for the future.
“Companies tell us consistently that skilled workers are critical for meeting the demands of their industries,” says Wake Tech President Dr. Scott Ralls, “and new apprenticeship options in these high-demand fields is incredibly timely. We appreciate the Wake County Commissioners’ support and acknowledgment of the value of work-based learning.”
In addition to the scholarship program, Wake Tech is expanding its staff to allow college sponsorship of apprenticeship programs and provide technical assistance to reduce administrative burdens for Wake County companies offering registered apprenticeship opportunities.
Apprenticeships are expanding across the U.S. as industries seek workers with experience as well as education and training. Apprenticeship programs have grown in numbers across North Carolina during recent years after the transfer of the ApprenticeshipNC program to the North Carolina Community College System, creating a tighter connection between on-the-job training provided by North Carolina employers and the related training programs provided by area community colleges. For students, apprenticeships offer opportunities to earn while they learn – and to get a leg up on employment and workplace success. Registered Apprenticeships require at least 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours of related classroom instruction. The average starting salary upon completion of a Registered Apprenticeship is $50,000; the impact of a career of increased earning potential is valued at approximately $300,000.