Hometown Jobs: Renaissance Contract Lighting and Furnishings Registered Apprenticeship

Published: Aug. 2, 2023 at 5:53 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Heading into the school year, one option for high school students in our hometowns is a registered apprenticeship.

It’s where students can learn on-the-job skills, while making money and possibly finding a lifelong career.

There’s always work to be done at Renaissance Contract Lighting and Furnishings in Roanoke.

“Renaissance is a lighting and metal furniture manufacturer for the hospitality industry, Virginia Tech, other notable companies throughout the country that we make lighting and custom metal furniture for… It’s so refreshing to see things being done in America from manufacturing to the various trades. So certainly, you know, as a domestic manufacturer, ourselves, we need to cultivate that, that new talent and help people find their way,” said Troy Cook, President of Renaissance Contract Lighting and Furnishings.

That’s why about 5 years ago the business got involved with the Virginia Registered Apprenticeship program.

“One of the objectives of the program is to keep talent here in the Valley. And again, open everybody’s eyes to the opportunities that are here in Roanoke,” said Cook.

Talent like Cooper French.

“I had a free elective period and I decided to take welding and then everything just kicked off from there,” said Cooper French, participant in the registered apprenticeship program.

French said he learned most of the skills he needed on the job.

“When I started here, they actually started to teach me a lot more than school ever did,” said French.

“Learning business skills, learning welding skills, manufacturing skills, but also people skills, communication skills, problem-solving skills,” said Cook.

Students are paid for the hours they work in hopes of getting hired on full-time.

“There’s a big need for welders in the valley certainly now. So with that the wages continue to elevate because we’re, we’re having to stay competitive with, you know, the other larger companies,” said Cook.

Because program participants are students, hours are flexible and studies come first.

“We look for aptitude, we look for ambition. We have something that can be molded and help a help student grow,” said Cook.