North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper celebrated Apprenticeship Week on Tuesday by touring the Caterpillar Pre-Apprenticeship Training in Welding Program at Central Carolina Community College.
Cooper has also proclaimed November 13 – 19 as Apprenticeship Week to recognize how apprenticeship programs strengthen North Carolina’s economy and help students across the state.
“It’s great to see so many talented young students learning the skills they need to succeed while they’re still in high school,” Cooper said. “This program is a wonderful example of our community colleges, local businesses and schools working together to strengthen our workforce for years to come.”
Also on hand were CCCC President Dr. Lisa Chapman and Lee County Schools Superintendent Dr. Andy Bryan.
“Central Carolina Community College is a first-class opportunity and leading workforce partner. Two keywords in that sentence are community and partner. We serve a community with exceptional partners, and our Caterpillar Youth Apprenticeship exemplifies this and has for 10 years,” said Chapman. “Partnering with Lee County Schools, Caterpillar, and ApprenticeshipNC has resulted in an effective response to a workforce concern where we consistently develop our local talent. National Apprenticeship Week was established to showcase successes, and I cannot think of a better one to recognize than our Caterpillar Youth Apprenticeship.”
Bryan said the Caterpillar program exemplifies the benefits of apprenticeships with regards to putting young people into good paying jobs, and strengthening the local workforce.
“What better way to celebrate apprenticeships than to highlight this Caterpillar Apprenticeship program — a nationally-acclaimed example of what local and statewide partnerships can do to provide life-changing opportunities for our students and to develop the workforce that our communities need to thrive,” he said.
Several other local elected officials were on hand, including state Sen. Jim Burgin, Sanford Mayor Rebecca Wyhof Salmon and Sanford City Council members Linda Rhodes, Mark Akinosho and Byron Buckels, Lee County Commissioner Robert Reives Sr., and Lee County Board of Education Chair Sandra Bowen.
Last year, over 13,000 North Carolinians participated in an apprenticeship program with over 1,600 employers statewide. Of the participants, almost 1,000 were considered youth apprentices who participated in programs in several different industries including, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, construction, health care, IT and logistics.
During his visit, Governor Cooper saw the registered welding youth apprenticeship program, a partnership between Caterpillar, LCS, CCCC, and ApprenticeshipNC. High school students in Lee County who go through this program take college-level welding classes and Caterpillar-specific training. In the spring of their senior year, they work part-time at Caterpillar. Apprentices are paid for the time working at Caterpillar or engaged in Caterpillar-specific training and their tuition costs are covered.