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8/22/19 10 Alamance students become manufacturing apprentices

Earning while learning

The fourth cohort of the Alamance Career Accelerator Program signed contracts with eight local manufacturing companies Tuesday, Aug. 20.

Submitted photo

The fourth cohort of the Alamance Career Accelerator Program signed contracts with eight local manufacturing companies Tuesday, Aug. 20.

10 Alamance students become manufacturing apprentices
By Jessica Williams, The Times-News 8/22/19     
Reprinted with permission.  

Every day, roughly 10,000 U.S. baby boomers reach retirement age. Alamance County is doing its part to replace them.

On Tuesday, Aug. 20, the fourth cohort of the Alamance Career Accelerator Program gathered at Impact Alamance, 133 E. Davis St., Burlington, to sign apprenticeship contracts with eight local manufacturing companies.

Over the next four years, each of these 10 high school seniors and recent graduates will earn free Associate in Applied Science degrees from Alamance Community College, Journeyman Certificates from the N.C. Department of Commerce, and paid on-thejob training.

Considering the U.S. student loan debt crisis has reached an all-time high, with 44 million Americans owing a collective $1.5 trillion, a free college education and guaranteed employment is a pretty sweet deal. But the opportunity didn’t come without hard work.

In fact, when the cohort began the extensive application process in January, there were 17 potential apprentices. Some dropped out. Others decided to follow a different path to employment.

“Some people consider you lucky to do what you do. I disagree,” Fairystone Fabrics President Jim Bryan said. “I believe you have earned your jobs by going through an extensive interview process that put you ahead of your peers. It is the start of your next phase of learning, and you’re earning while you’re learning so we can build a better workforce for tomorrow.”

Justin Padmos, who signed a contract with Fairystone Fabrics in 2016, spoke briefly about his experiences over the last three years.

“I take what I’ve learned in school, and I’ve used it every day at work for the past three years now, going on four years,” he said. “And through work, I get to meet some great people. I’ve lived here my entire life, and there are [so many] industries I learn about every day that I never knew existed, and how some of them can help us. For example, I’m working with one company, locally, to redesign a pre-existing system to make our machines more efficient, reduce our downtime, and save us money over the course of the year — an estimated $50,000 a year.”

It hasn’t been all work and no play.

Padmos has gotten to travel to Germany for training, and CAP apprentices get together once a month for a tour and team-building. This month they’re touring Glen Raven and playing laser tag.
A close-knit group, previous years’ cohorts sat in the back of the room in matching blue shirts, ready to support the “freshmen” as they begin their journeys.

More than 10,000 active apprentices are training with more than 750 employers in North Carolina, according to Kathryn Castelloes of ApprenticeshipNC. She told the crowd apprenticeship is now considered “the other four-year degree.”