Students learn about the opportunities of apprenticeship at annual showcase

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 10:33 PM EST
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - More than a hundred students and their families came out for Roanoke County Public School’s annual Student Registered Apprenticeship Showcase at the Salem Civic Center Tuesday night. There, they were greeted by 19 organizations looking to show them what apprenticeships have to offer.

“The registered apprenticeship program is really set up for students who want to apply what they’re learning in high school and see that application immediately, and/or, explore a career as these opportunities will lead to a career hopefully with a company,” said Jason Suhr, Career and Technical Education director for Roanoke County Public Schools.

Apprenticeships are nothing new, but can offer a head start on skills and potentially a career.

“It has morphed into about 1300 occupations across the Commonwealth,” said Diana Lyons, a registered apprenticeship consultant and the supervisor of the southwest Virginia portion of the state Department of Labor and Industry.

Businesses are eager to reach out with CTE students especially, because of the skills they learn in their programs.

“We know how important it is to have have experience in our staff and our employees. And we’re hoping that we can start really young and get them enthusiastic about it as as teenagers,” said Lauren Beres, the pastry chef at The Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center.

“It’s a big thing having all that opportunity to still be in high school taking classes and having a job outside of school,” said Hunter Jackson, a junior at Glenvar High School.

“Make some money, take dad out for a change,” joked Hunter’s father Brandon.

Cameron Preast is a graduate of Glenvar High School. Six years ago he got involved with the apprenticeship program and is now an acting supervisor at a water treatment plant for the Western Virginia Water Authority.

“It set me up very well in life early on,” said Preast.

For Preast, seeing students potentially following the route he took, is exciting.

“It’s great to see all these young people getting involved, even if it’s not in the Western Virginia Water Authority. It’s the workforce and this is the future of our little area and our world,” said Preast.

The continued success of career and technical education is a priority for southwest Virginia school divisions.

“Technical Education is the key for registered apprenticeship,” said Lyons.