EARLY YEARS: Student Registered Apprenticeships give students big boost to future careers

Students in our hometowns are getting on-the-job training while still in high school through work-based learning
From automotive to health care to surveying, there is a huge variety of industries offering apprenticeships and jobs for teens in our hometowns
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 5:37 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Anthony Garcia likes to work with his hands. After two years of automotive class and an apprenticeship, he’s employed with Lawrence Companies.

“So, my position is called a field technician and we take off truck bodies and put flatbeds, service bodies and we work on any size truck,” says Garcia.

Garcia, and a growing number of students like him, is singing the praises of apprenticeships.

“It’s definitely a jump start in the workforce, because you get a lot of opportunities. Like for me, I actually got a free toolbox, so that saved me a lot of money,” says Garcia.

From automotive, to engineering, to health sciences, cosmetology and more, career and technical education has evolved.

And it’s not an either-or situation, when it comes to college. Some businesses are willing to finance a student’s tuition.

“So, the kids are getting the best of both worlds. They’re starting in their trade and career and then they’re also being provided opportunities to increase their education,” says Jess Truax, Work-based Learning Coordinator for Roanoke City Public Schools.

The student registered apprenticeship program is a joint venture among Roanoke City, Roanoke County and Salem City Public Schools, in partnership with a growing list of local businesses.

“There’s an array of opportunity, and that spectrum continues to grow, as we continue talks with companies. We’re currently in talks with several, in conjunction with the department of labor and industry, because this is a very official program,” says Jason Suhr, Director of Career and Technical Education in Roanoke County Public Schools.

As an apprentice, Phoenix Angell was the first in the state to finish the surveying technician program. He now works for Balzer & Associates.

“Pretty much shadowed my crew chief, just learning the basics. Learning how to do coding. Learning how to do field work, staking out buildings, doing mortgage surveys, all that kind of stuff,” says Angell.

Now Angell has a leadership role, running a crew.

For him, the program he started in high school has made all the difference.

“The student apprenticeship program was extremely helpful in getting me where I am now. I don’t know where I’d be if the program didn’t exist,” says Angell.

If interested in CTE, work based learning or apprenticeships, click this link, or you can talk to your school counselor.

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