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Apprenticeship Success Stories

Apprenticeship Offers Advantages for Workers and Employers

William Lauver

One of the key aspects to any expanding business is finding new employees. Clay County’s Thomas May Construction is one of those companies. Because the business needs technically skilled workers, it utilizes an apprentice program. With roots dating as far back as the scrolls of Hammurabi, apprenticeship programs have been developed into a modern model of workforce education.

In the state of Florida there are more than 980 occupations that are apprenticeable. The Florida Department of Education, Office of Workforce Education - Apprenticeship registers apprenticeship programs and ensures that programs meet minimum apprenticeable standards. “Although there are some limitations in Florida, most jobs that can be learned by the hands and the head may become an apprenticeship,” said William Lauver, Apprenticeship & Training Representative for the Florida Department of Education.

Thomas May Construction and T & M Electric are utilizing apprenticeship programs to grow their own technically skilled workforce. “Having been in an apprenticeship early in my career, I already was familiar with the program,” said Keith Ward, Vice President of Thomas May Construction, a local construction firm located in Orange Park that participates in the carpentry apprenticeship. “Through apprenticeships we can train quality craftsmen and build future leaders of the workforce.” In addition to the carpentry apprenticeship, the Northeast Florida region has several apprenticeship programs including electricians, plumbers, cooks, telecommunications technician and many more.

By definition, an apprenticeship is a structured system of training designed to prepare individuals for occupations in skilled trades and crafts. It combines on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced journey workers with related classroom instruction. The classroom instruction usually takes place one to two nights per week, approximately four to six hours per week. Most programs utilize local vocational schools or community colleges such as St. Johns River Community College and First Coast Technical Institute for their related classroom instruction site. Depending on the trade, the program can last from one to ten years, with the average program length being 4 years.

On top of benefits for the employer, apprenticeship has benefits for the participants. “A huge advantage of apprenticeship programs is there are no tuition fees by the participants. The only costs would be tools, books, and transportation needed for the trade.” said Lauver. “It truly is an opportunity to earn while you learn.” Furthermore, apprenticeship programs are designed to give participants incremental wage increases so as their skills increase, their wages increase (usually every 6 months). Wage levels are based on a percentage of the journeyworker wage levels and usually start out between $8-$12/hour. Apprentices who successfully complete the prescribed number of hours of training in a registered apprenticeship program will be awarded certificates of completion, which are recognized through out the country.

For more information on apprenticeship programs contact William Lauver with the Florida Department of Education, Office of Workforce Education – Apprenticeship at (904) 798-0060 ext. 2196.