Businesses find skilled workers through apprenticeship program

Businesses find skilled workers through apprenticeship program

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Some businesses have trouble finding skilled workers in the state, but an Alabama apprenticeship program is helping fill that gap.

“There’s a skills gap for skilled labor,” said Patsy Richards, the Apprenticeship Alabama coordinator.

Apprenticeship Alabama helps students post-high school find hands-on job experience while going to school. Lewis Mills, the fixed operations director for Larry Puckett Chevrolet, said the business struggled to find workers until they participated with Apprenticeship Alabama.

“We were in need of employees," Mills said. “They’re hard to find.”

Larry Puckett Chevrolet hired Mark Palanton as an apprentice. Palanton is an automotive student at Trenholm Community College.

“I love working with my hands and I love being able to work on someone else’s vehicle and make them happy,” Palanton said.

He works full-time at Larry Puckett’s and attends classes.

“I’m able to go to school and be able to work at the same time and learn things at school that I can’t learn at work and learn things at work that I can’t learn at school,” Palanton said.

In this case, apprentices can work maintenance like changing a vehicle’s oil or tires.

The state is pushing for more businesses and colleges to get involved with Apprenticeship Alabama. The governor has a goal to have 500,000 workers with credentials after high school by 2025. Alabama needs more than 140,000 skilled workers to reach that goal.

“We were tasked with getting to businesses to find out what their needs are and communicate it to educators, community stakeholders, anybody that will listen to prepare the workforce," Richards said.

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