State leaders want to expand program giving high school students workplace experience

Alabama leaders want to use apprenticeships to prepare high school students

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Lilly Sparks is a senior in Fort Payne City Schools and works part-time with Rainsville Technology Inc.

“I’ve had jobs but none in this type of industry," she said. "I’m in the automation side so I basically see a lot with robotics.”

Sparks works there through a youth apprenticeship program with the company. She attends school 10 hours a week and works there around 30 hours a week.

“I think it will help me get a good job and just say that I have worked and have gained the experience so I know how to apply it to every day things," she said.

This program allows her to learn skills and be one step closer to earning a Journeyman certification. State experts want more youth apprenticeship programs to give more students the experience Sparks had.

Right now there is only one youth apprenticeship program in Fort Payne through Alabama Apprenticeship. These programs will help Alabamians meet the demand for skilled workers in the state.

“Students who are applying for jobs don’t have the proper employ-ability skills to get them and once they get them they can’t retain them," said Joshua Laney, the workforce development senior director with the Alabama State Department of Education.

Laney said working with companies through apprenticeships allows students to understand the expectations in the workplace.

“The student learns the company culture and what’s the real world expectation of things like showing up on time and passing a drug test and getting along with your peers," he said.

State leaders, experts and businesses met in Montgomery Wednesday to talk about how to develop the workforce and encourage students to work in the trades.

Currently there are 126 adult apprenticeship programs in the state with more than 5,000 adults involved.

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