State urges apprenticeship programs

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
Garrett Walker, at right, attended a meeting Monday morning to share his experiences in the Apprenticeship Maryland Program.

CAMBRIDGE — “Youth apprenticeship is good for business,” a statement from the Maryland Department of Labor (MDDL) said. Representatives from the department were at the Hyatt Resort on Monday, encouraging companies and young workers to take part in the Apprenticeship Maryland Program.

The meeting was hosted by the Dorchester Chamber of Commerce, with participation by Dorchester County Public Schools (DCPS) and the county’s Department of Economic Development. Among the local officials who attended were Interim Superintendent of Public Schools Dave Bromwell, DCPS Career Counselor and Apprenticeship Coordinator Lynn Sorrells, and Director of Economic Development Susan Banks.

“Apprenticeships are full-time careers that include on-the-job training and classroom instruction that allow apprentices to earn while they learn,” the MDDL said. “Anyone 18 or older can be a registered apprentice, while high school students can pursue youth apprenticeships. The school-to-apprenticeship model allows youth ages 16 or 17 to register as apprentices with a registered apprenticeship sponsor prior to graduation.”

A local student is already showing the way. An Oct. 18 statement from DCPS said, “North Dorchester High School and Dorchester Career and Technology Center (DCTC) welding student Garrett Walker is the first DCPS student to sign an apprenticeship agreement under the new Apprenticeship Maryland program. Garrett will complete 450 paid hours with GKD-USA as well as earn four credits toward graduation.”

Garrett was at the presentation Monday to share his experience. “It’s a lot more learning,” he said. “You have a person helping you.”

For Garrett, that person at GKD-USA is Lamar Dockins. “My mentor gives me my material to weld,” Garrett said. “He helps me through the different steps.”

While he is learning with the company, Garrett also gave credit to the school program. “A lot of it came from DCTC,” he said.

Maryland’s youth apprenticeship program now has 135 participating companies across the state. The MDDL said on Nov. 13, “The Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council has approved three new registered apprenticeship programs and 11 new youth apprenticeship employers. These additions to Maryland’s apprenticeship programs are expanding opportunities for students and workers in high-wage skilled trade jobs and non-traditional industries while supporting the workforce needs of local businesses.”

“As Maryland recognizes National Apprenticeship Week [Nov. 11-17], we are excited to welcome a number of new employers to our apprenticeship team,” Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson said. “These new partnerships allow us to further diversify our registered and youth apprenticeship programs while encouraging our state’s job seekers to take advantage of Maryland’s many earn and learn apprenticeship opportunities.”

Information from the MDDL highlighted the following points:

Companies
• Build your workforce. Youth apprenticeship trains workers in the specific skills needed by your company.
• Connect to the talent of the future. Youth apprenticeships are a great way to develop a pipeline of talented, high-skilled workers to help your business grow.
• Contribute to your bottom line. You will see a noticeable contribution to your bottom line through these highly productive and motivated employees.
• Make your workplace safer. A well-trained workforce may reduce worker compensation costs.
• Plan for employee succession. Youth apprenticeships help you successfully facilitate the transfer of knowledge from experienced employees to new recruits.

Workers
“Youth apprenticeship is good for your career,” the statement said, in a comment aimed at students and others beginning to learn new skills.
• Earn while you learn. Youth apprentices are paid a wage while they learn valuable job skills.
• Discover your dream job. Confirm that the industry you selected is a good fit for you, saving you time and money in pursuing costly higher education or technical training after high school.
• Get a head start. Youth apprentices have an advantage over other candidates when seeking employment after high school, because they develop valuable career skills and a professional network.
• Become more confident. Gain self-assurance by working independently under the tutelage of a mentor.
• Make new friends. Youth apprenticeship programs attract a diverse group of students.

Garrett was asked what he would say to other students considering apprenticeship. “Go for it. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made,” he said. “I love it.”

For more information about the Apprenticeship Maryland program in Dorchester County, contact Jacqueline Sorrells at sorrellsl@dcpsmd.org.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.