Inaugural Class of Youth Registered Apprentices from Four Rivers Career Center - Many Chamber Businesses Participating!
On Friday, February 26, Four Rivers Career Center in Washington hosted a signing day ceremony to recognize 33 Youth Registered Apprentices and 10 Apprentice-Elects. Watch the Ceremony here! Leaders representing the community, apprentice's parents, FRCC instructors and elected officials, as well as Wade Johnson (Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship) and Commissioner Zora Mulligan (Dept. of Higher Education and Workforce Development) were present to celebrate the students' achievements. Over the past six months, staff at the career center has worked closely with City of Washington and Chamber Officials to develop partnerships with local businesses and accelerate the youth-focused apprenticeship program.
At this time, FRCC offers seven (7) different apprenticeship study programs: Automotive Technology, Machine Tool, Welding, Collision Repair, Carpenter, Engineering, Information Technology. There are currently 24 Premier Business Partners certified to employ apprentices from Four Rivers Career Center. Chamber Members taking advantage of the training program include Modern Auto Company, Riechers Tire and Auto, Straatmann Toyota, School District of Washington, KJ Unnerstall Construction, GH Tool & Mold, Riechers Truck Bodies, and Sahm Welding and Fabrication.
The Signing Day ceremony was the culmination of many efforts and milestones leading up to this ceremony:
Four Rivers Career Center prides itself in authentic experiences for their students, bridging the gap between education and career success. Recognized as a premier Career and Technical Education Center FRCC offers students the ability to connect their passions to their career path. FRCC services ten high schools and spans St. Charles, Gasconade, Warren, Franklin, Crawford, and St. Louis Counties.
"Five years ago, the charge was to change the face of Four Rivers," said FRCC Director Andy Robinson. "Prior to that, we were vo-tech - we were the school students would go to that weren't successful in academic educational areas. I trust my staff, I trust the teachers that are making it happen, I trust what they do every day in the classroom to make it real. They take our students and they find their passions and they push them out into the real world. They understand that their program of study may be to go to a 4 year university, to a 2-year community college, or to a trade school, or just go straight to work and get involved. We find every kid where they're at and we push them along. In order to represent that, we needed an apprenticeship program."
The program has great potential to keep growing, developing an effective pipeline for a highly skilled, sustainable workforce. Four Rivers Career Center is setting a high standard to qualify as Youth Registered Apprentices through aptitude, academic performance, and work ethic. Students must meet a number of requirements to qualify for the program, maintaining a minimum 2.5 GPA and 95 percent attendance rate, and they must be at least 16 years of age. "Today we're celebrating 33 students," Robinson said. "We call them gold standard students because they are our guarantee. We want to push out high quality students.
We've got another 500 kids in the wings - we just couldn't get to them all, but we will. It just takes time and effort, and building more relationships in our community."
Cynthia Walker was hired as the Apprenticeship Coordinator and has been impressed with the way the community has embraced the apprenticeship model. "I'm amazed at the achievements we can make when we all work together as a team. The vision of YRA has been a long held initiative for our administration, school board, employers, and our local/state officials, with a purpose to bolster our economy and fill the needed workforce skills gap. Our FRCC Director, Andy Robinson, has helped put feet to that vision and provided the initiative for the community relationships, the leadership, as well as the many provisions to move this chapter of career and technical education forward."
Governor Mike Parson and Lt. Governor Mike Kehoe, both supporters of apprenticeship and other programs to help narrow the skills gap, were unable to attend the ceremony due to scheduling conflicts. Gov. Parson has plans to visit FRCC for a tour in the future, and Lt. Gov. Kehoe provided a video address for the ceremony, stating, "CTE (Career & Technical Education) students are a vital resource to Missouri's thriving economy today, tomorrow, and the future because our state needs a strong skilled, and highly motivated workforce to compete in the world's marketplace."
Wade Johnson of the U.S. Department of Labor/Office of Apprenticeship had wonderful things to say about the greater Washington community and Four Rivers Career Center. Before presenting the official certification of the FRCC Apprenticeship Program, he stated, "City and Business organizations. This is the perfect storm in a positive way of things that need to happen to not only develop an apprenticeship program, but to have it be sustainable."
His words about the students, however, were a highlight of the day, and proof that Four Rivers Career Center is living and fulfilling its mission to provide a quality education with real life experiences and opportunities to achieve a higher standard of living for a diverse student population using authentic hands-on learning modeled by knowledgeable and caring instructors.
Johnson stated, "I wish I was as confident and talented in high school as what I've seen today. And it's not just the apprentices. The kids that gave us tours... They were very sure of what they wanted to do and how they wanted to prepare themselves for the workforce, for becoming productive, contributing members of society, forging their own path to the middle class. It inspires me, and it gives me hope for the future."
The program was closed by Commissioner Zora Mulligan of the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. "To the students watching - the state of Missouri is tremendously proud of your success and we can't wait to see what you do as you finish your apprenticeships and go on into the economy and your lives. Thank you all for celebrating this important event with us today."
Does your company want to get involved with the Youth Registered Apprenticeship Program?
Learn more here, or contact Cynthia Walker, Apprenticeship Coordinator for additional details!
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