With the help of the Vermeer Corporation and the Governor’s STEM Advisory Council, the Career Academy has established a welding apprenticeship program. In early fall, Principal Eric Nelson was approached by Governor Reynolds’s Stem Council about creating the apprenticeship program.
The goal of the apprenticeship is to advance students’ education and prepare them to be helpful members in our society. Within the next decade, three and a half million manufacturing jobs will need to be filled, and according to Nelson, the governor is looking for ways to fill those positions with current students.
“If you think about it, the high demand that we are going to need for skilled labor in our county and community is a valuable resource,” said Nelson.
Pella High School wants to assist students in streamlining their apprenticeship process. Usually a student isn’t able to able to complete a welding apprenticeship program, which is 6,000 hours on the job, until 3 years after graduation. However with this program, students can complete the final steps of their apprenticeship after graduation and can finish their apprenticeship at age 19.
In order to enter the sequence for the apprenticeship, students must complete Welding 1 and Welding 2 by the end of their junior year. Next, student apprentices will work in the summer between their junior and senior year. Finally, students will work half the day and go to school the other half during their senior year. While they work, these students will be making at least $12.00 an hour.
The first student to go through the apprenticeship program is junior Charles Vander Velden. Vander Velden enrolled in the program in Des Moines with Governor Kim Reynolds, Lt. Governor Adam Gregg, and U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta in attendance. Vander Velden was chosen because he was the first student to be eligible, as he was completing Welding 2 his junior year. Sophomore Hannah Davis will be starting the program next year.
“It is something I have always been interested in,” said Davis. “Now that there is a real need for someone in that job area, it gives me another reason to do it.”