The number of people served by North Carolina’s apprenticeship program increased by almost one-third in fiscal year 2019, according to a report from the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS).
ApprenticeshipNC, which registers apprentices and pre-apprentices, served 11,399 people during the 2019 fiscal year that ended June 30. That is 31 percent more than the previous year, when the program served 8,679 people. ApprenticeshipNC’s staff has set a goal of serving 15,000 people during the 2020 fiscal year, which began July 1.
Since the state’s General Assembly transferred ApprenticeshipNC to the community college system two years ago, the number of people served by the program has jumped by 44 percent.
Filling a need
The program is expanding because businesses are concerned about access to a skilled workforce and they are turning to ApprenticeshipNC for help, said NCCCS President Peter Hans.
“The growth in our program in just the last two years shows how much North Carolina employers value having apprentices in their talent pipeline,” Hans said. “This model can also help North Carolina meet its goal of increasing the number of citizens with a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential over the next decade.”
Apprenticeship is an employer-driven training model that combines paid work-based learning with related classroom instruction. Apprentices’ wages increase as they progress through the program. Upon completion of training, participants earn state and federal certificates signifying their knowledge and skill set in a particular field. Depending on the program, apprentices also may complete an associate degree or other credential.
ApprenticeshipNC, which is part of the community college system, works with businesses, industry groups and other organizations to establish registered apprenticeships in North Carolina.
Investing in employees
Businesses such as Wayne Brothers Companies in Davidson have found that investing in employees increases revenue.
“When we provide a structured training program where our employees gain skills and the confidence to do the work, the quality and rate of output increases,” said Keith Wayne, the company’s president and CEO. “This becomes very noticeable to our clients through their enhanced project experience, which in turn increases repeat business. This increase in business keeps our employees gainfully employed. It’s really full circle, but it all starts with investing in your employees.”
Other highlights from the report, which was submitted to the General Assembly’s Joint Education Oversight and Joint Education Appropriations committees:
- The number of active apprentices, or people who have not yet completed their program, was 8,212 as of June 30, a 25 percent increase from 2018.
- Among industry sectors, construction was the largest with 1,961 active apprentices, followed by advanced manufacturing (1,436) and energy (1,382).
- The number of youth apprentices and pre-apprentices served during the year grew 59 percent to 755. Youth apprentices are between the ages of 16 and 18.
- ApprenticeshipNC’s staff registered 109 new apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs.
- During the fiscal year, 1,929 active duty military personnel participated in or completed apprenticeship training; 69 percent were at Fort Bragg.