SMACNA Mid-Atlantic Holds Successful Pre-Apprentice Program
Earlier this year, SMACNA Mid-Atlantic was awarded an Apprentice Innovation Fund (AIF) Grant from the State of Maryland. This fund was established to invest in programs that support and enhance Registered Apprenticeship (RA) expansion strategies.
Seven graduating high-school seniors completed the initial six-week pre-apprentice program, held from April 23 – June 1, 2019. One of these students will be attending the University of Maryland – College Park in the fall while hoping to work in the sheet metal industry part-time as a student and upon graduation. Another student in the program achieved a second-place finish in the SkillsUSA competition at the state level.
The intent of the program had many facets with the primary focus on an introduction to the sheet metal industry. The program also focused on professional development and career guidance. SMACNA Mid-Atlantic scheduled nationally recognized speakers, local industry executives, the Local 100 training director, a sheet metal superintendent and a fourth-year apprentice to share their journeys and lessons learned over the years.
The chapter also partnered with a math instructor to ensure that mathematics and problem-solving mechanics were refined in preparation for the apprentice mathematics assessment examination. One of the students took the Local 100 mathematics entry examination shortly before the program and his score will qualify him for direct admission to the apprentice program.
The program also partnered with a human resources professional and recruiter to focus on mentoring and professional development. Students were trained in interview strategies, resume development and other life skills to help bolster their total development.
At the conclusion of the program, SMACNA Mid-Atlantic held a signing ceremony with graduation cords and an awards presentation. A professional photographer was hired to take photos of the students holding a large (fake) check for future training and development worth $100,000.
The chapter will be working with the graduates to procure employment opportunities as quickly as possible. From evaluations sent at the conclusion of the course, 100% of the students felt the program was supportive of their training and the classroom setting was supportive for learning.
One student noted on the critique, “This program is amazing and helped me understand a better idea of what I’m getting myself into in the next 6 months. The hosts were also very kind and generous.”
SMACNA Mid-Atlantic plans to pursue a second grant next year and aims to double the number of participants. They are reviewing student feedback and critiques to refine the program and curriculum for next year!