06/16/08 — Wayne schools encourage apprenticeship programs

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Wayne schools encourage apprenticeship programs

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on June 16, 2008 1:45 PM

Wayne County School officials are continuing their efforts to forge a partnership with the business community, recently hosting an informational session on its "youth apprenticeship" initiatives.

About 25 area businesses sent representatives to the session, said Erlene Brogden, lead teacher for the work-based learning program in Wayne County Public Schools.

It was an opportunity to explore the "grow-your-own" effort to provide future workers in Wayne County, she said.

"It's just another way to help the schools, to help the businesses, to get our students out into the business world," she said of the apprenticeship program. "We're all trying to get them all the certifications that we can while they're still in high school."

In recent years, the school system has introduced career academies in each of its high schools. Others are being added this fall.

Among those already in place is the School of Engineering, a school-within-a-school program housed at Goldsboro High School. Charles B. Aycock also has an engineering academy and will add a business focus in the fall.

Likewise, Goldsboro and Eastern Wayne high schools will be adding business academies in the coming year; Southern Wayne will have a construction academy and a diesel academy, as well as a masonry program, while a health occupations academy is being launched at Spring Creek High. The "initiatives in planning digital media academy" will be offered at Rosewood High.

Beyond classroom efforts, Ms. Brogden said the academies lend themselves to a merger with the business community. In addition to skills and tools for different vocations, students are taught such aspects as workplace ethics, dress and the importance of getting to work on time.

The apprenticeship program has already been introduced successfully through several area businesses, Ms. Brogden said. High school juniors and seniors are paid for hours worked after school and on weekends.

Done in collaboration with the Department of Labor, students also earn hours toward certification.

The concept provides an excellent opportunity for the business community and the schools, she said.

"It's just wide open," she said. While there are age limits and some safety regulations, the range of job opportunities could be anywhere -- from corporate and vocational enterprises to law offices, she said.

Ms. Brogden said she is continually seeking interest from area employers. She has lately been working with Seymour Johnson Air Force Base as well as Wayne Memorial Hospital and O'Berry Center, among others.

"What I'm hoping to see is that business people are talking to other business people" about the opportunity, she said.

Over the coming months, she said she plans to send out letters in hopes of eliciting further support for the program.

"I'll be working with businesses in the summer and hopefully in the fall, so that we can start them working on a partnership agreement." she said.

The ultimate goal, she explained, is to keep Wayne County's best and brightest students working in their own community.

Another goal for the fall is to host a countywide career fair, with an array of businesses represented and sharing what they have to offer.

For more information on the apprenticeship program, contact Ms. Brogden at 705-6187.