It’s an old-school approach to a new problem throughout the United States — finding enough highly skilled workers to keep plants buzzing. Georgia has placed its bet on apprenticeships, where technically oriented students are paired with companies willing to both train and pay them.
Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle recently welcomed the second annual Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training Program signing ceremony in Atlanta, where 16 Georgia manufacturers signed their apprenticeship acceptance letters with 21 incoming high school sophomores. The students are part of the second GA CATT cohort of Industrial Mechanics apprentices.
“It’s hard to believe that this program was only an idea on paper just a few short years ago, ” Cagle says. “What began with a handful of students last year has now grown to include 27 students across four college and career academies.”
Sponsoring industry partners are Bosch, FiberVisions Corp., General Mills, Haver & Boecker USA, Michelin North America, Nisshinbo Automotive Manufacturing, Verescence, American Woodmark Corp., Hoshizaki America, Norcom, E.G.O. North America, Kason, Yokogawa Corp. of America, Grenzebach Corp., KCMA Corp. and Groov-Pin.
Beginning in the 10th grade, Georgia high school students can now complete their education with a high school diploma, German apprenticeship certificate and diploma or associate degree in industrial mechanics through West Georgia Technical College, Georgia Piedmont Technical College or Southern Crescent Technical College.
Companies pay their apprentices a starting salary of $8 an hour. By the 12th grade, students will spend 80 percent of their day learning at the manufacturing site, earning $12 an hour. The German model has proven effective in developing high-skill talent, increasing student work ethic and securing a professional career track at no additional cost for students or their families.