Pella High apprentices signed last Wednesday


Gavin Klein

If you’re looking to be a welder, a chef, a nurse, or an engineering assistant, you can now be part of a program that will give you all the training and experience necessary to start working and making a living straight out of high school.

“Apprenticeship is earn while you learn,” said principal Eric Nelson about the program. “Students will be learning about a career pathway, and they’ll also be earning money because they’re working with four employers. They’ll also be earning high school and college credit. For example, welding will start with Vermeer, PPI, Wyler or Coline this summer, and they’ll start working, getting orientation, and then working through the process of becoming a welder, learning different welds and so on.”

This summer will also be a busy time of year for students in the other apprentice programs.  Culinary arts students will start at Central, and engineering assistants will be at Pella Corp or Vermeer.

A major milestone for the students in these apprenticeships was the signing ceremony that took place last Wednesday. Nelson spoke about the program along with Teri Vos from Vermeer and high school senior Carson Reynolds, and afterwards, fourteen students signed a letter of intent, signifying their commitment to the program. Charles VanderVelden, a welding apprentice, was recognized as the first student to pilot the apprenticeship program.

“The normal track is: your junior year, you interview, you job shadow and you sign in the spring of that year,” said Nelson. “In the summer, you start working, and then your senior year, you’re half on the job training, half taking classes, and then post-graduation you complete your apprenticeship.”

The apprenticeship program offers a career path that allows students to minimize potential debt and helps them to choose a job that is in demand. Good luck to all the students who were signed on Wednesday, and hopefully, there will be many more to come.