Recognizing an exceptional apprentice, partnering company

Caleb Baudoin, a student at Randolph Community College (RCC) who is an apprentice through the North Carolina college’s Apprenticeship Randolph program, has always wanted to follow in his grandpa’s and dad’s footsteps. Both have been machinists since they were 19. And neither toots his own horn.

But, Baudoin’s coworkers at Hubbell Industrial Controls (HIC) took notice of not only the apprentice’s work ethic, but also his teamwork, enthusiasm, patience and willingness to learn. The result was Baudoin earning the Outstanding Registered Apprentice Award at the annual ApprenticeshipNC Conference, held virtually in April. Elastic Therapy Inc. (ETI), which is in Asheboro, the same town as RCC, was named Outstanding Consortium Member.

Baudoin, who is in his second year as an apprentice with Hubbell — a company that creates products that control larger machinery — found out about Apprenticeship Randolph (AR) through his high school career counselor. The program, which is for high school juniors and seniors, begins with a six-week, pre-apprenticeship summer program that comprises RCC classes and 40 hours per week of on-the-job training. Once a business selects its apprentice after this trial period, the program is spread over four years with students receiving paid, on-the-job training while earning an associate of applied science degree in manufacturing technology or information technology through RCC and a journeyworker certificate from the North Carolina Community College System and U.S. Department of Labor.

“I was interested in Apprenticeship Randolph right away, especially when I heard about the no debt and getting a degree,” Baudoin said. “The biggest thing [with choosing Hubbell] is they actually offered me a quality technician position. It was something completely different. When people on the floor build the product, I verify that it is what it is and that it operates correctly, and that it meets certain specifications.”

An exceptional person

Baudoin has been on his own since he graduated from Trinity High School, even taking custody of his 17-year-old sister, Rhian, for a year and providing for both of them while their mom, a traveling nurse, was across the country in California.

“When my mom asked me, ‘Can you do it?’ I didn’t hesitate,” he said. “That’s how I am. I take care of my family before anything else.”

“I believe Caleb was nominated because of his passion for the program, his passion for success and his passion for his family,” said HIC Quality Supervisor Christopher Bradley. “We really hope that he’s going to be available to stay.”

Not only is the 20-year-old working 40 hours a week, but, as a part of AR, he is taking courses at RCC and looking to graduate in summer 2023. After that, Baudoin said he’d like to take night and online classes to get his bachelor’s degree in business and even a master’s degree — and definitely keep working for Hubbell.

“The people at Hubbell are great,” he said. “They’re very enthusiastic, very energized.”

The feeling is mutual.

“Caleb is so exceptional; he is very attentive to details,” said Todd Yarborough, a senior manager at HIC. “He communicates very well with our seasoned and our new production associates. He’s always helping them learn — ‘Here’s how we can make our products better. Here’s how we can eliminate defects.’ ”

All of that hard work earned Baudoin recognition from not only the folks at Hubbell, but also at the state level, earning him the award from ApprenticeshipNC.

Committed to diversity

ETI was one of the founding members of Apprenticeship Randolph. The company was nominated not only because of its commitment to lively learning, work-based learning and apprenticeship, but also its commitment to diversity. ETI was the first member company to sign a female apprentice, and more than half of its current youth apprentices are students or color.

“They’re dedicated to teaching us, to building us as people; they’re about cultivating the whole person, not just cultivating a person to do a job,” said Emma Fahy, a second-year apprentice at ETI.

“Seventy to 80% of apprentice candidates actually complete the program and, of those that complete the program, 90% are with the same company five years after they complete the program,” said Chris Harrington, ETI’s director of operations and AR co-chair. “That’s why we’re in the program.”

Apprenticeship Randolph began in June 2016 as a collaboration among RCC, the Randolph County School System, Asheboro City Schools, the Asheboro/Randolph Chamber of Commerce and local manufacturers. The goal was to bridge both the interest and skill gaps in modern manufacturing and provide a vehicle for expanding the workforce pool for advanced manufacturing in the county. With tuition funded through Career and College Promise and the North Carolina Youth Apprenticeship Tuition Waiver Program, and books paid for by the school systems and the participating companies, Apprenticeship Randolph produces an educated, skilled debt-free workforce.

About the Author

Megan Crotty
is a writer/editor at Randolph Community College in North Carolina.