Dorchester apprentices sign up with local firms

County leads state program

By Dave Ryan
Posted 7/2/21

CAMBRIDGE — Six local youths took important steps into their future careers on June 29, when they signed commitments as part of the Apprenticeship Maryland program. The ceremony took place at …

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Dorchester apprentices sign up with local firms

County leads state program

Posted

CAMBRIDGE — Six local youths took important steps into their future careers on June 29, when they signed commitments as part of the Apprenticeship Maryland program. The ceremony took place at the county’s Visitor Center, and was attended by family members, state and local officials.
Apprenticeship Maryland is a youth apprenticeship program for students, ages 16 and up, designed to lead to sustainable employment and further education based on a student’s selected career. It was developed in partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) and the Maryland Department of Labor.

The concept behind the program is to create compensated, high-quality youth apprenticeships that prepare students to enter employment in high-skilled, high-growth sectors. Participating students start the program in the summer or fall of their junior or senior year and must complete at least 450 hours of work-based training under the supervision of an eligible employer and at least one year of related instruction, information from the Department of Labor said.
Opening opportunities
Branden Ebeling was one of those who committed on June 29. “It will open more opportunities,” he said, having already started a couple days previously as a welding-fabricator apprentice at GKD-USA. “If you take advantage of opportunities, you can go far.”

Jonathan Nuwer had also gotten begun at GKD-USA, where he was learning industrial maintenance. That varied field includes skills related to wiring, carpentry and more.
“I’m getting all kinds of experience,” he said.

The program is led locally by Career Counseling and Apprenticeship Coordinator for Dorchester County Public Schools (DCPS) Jacqueline Sorrells.
DCPS Superintendent W. David Bromwell said the community should acknowledge the accomplishments of students such as these, who are stepping out into the working world, using the knowledge and skills they acquired at the Dorchester Career and Technology Center (DCTC).

Giving back already
“We have unbelievable programs at DCTC,” Mr. Bromwell said. “And we have unbelievable students. These students are already giving back.”
Secretary of the Department of Labor Tiffany Robinson said that over the past six years, participation in the program has increased dramatically, with Dorchester County’s school district being the first to join. Also present to offer their congratulations were State Senator Addie Eckardt (R-37), Delegate Johnny Mautz (R-37B), and Department of Education Career Program and Apprenticeship Specialist Jennifer Griffin.
During the apprenticeships, the students will earn a wage while they gain marketable skills, and decide on a career path.
“Youth apprenticeship is good for your career,” a statement from the Department of Labor’s Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program said. “Confirm that the industry you selected is a good fit for you, saving you time and money in pursuing costly higher education or technical training after high school.

Get a head start. Youth apprentices have an advantage over other candidates when seeking employment after high school, because they develop valuable career skills and a professional network.

Extensive support
“Our administration’s focus on making Maryland more business friendly and improving the state’s economic competitiveness has been supported by the tremendous growth of registered apprenticeships,” Governor Larry Hogan said in 2019’s annual apprenticeships report, the most recent available. “With more apprentices than ever before in our state’s history, businesses are using this cost-effective workforce development tool to mold their future workforce while creating new jobs.”
That’s a lot of backing available for workers still in high school. They are “lucky to have so many supports in place,” Ms. Sorrells said.
While the signing ceremony acknowledged the six youths that day, others have participated. Skye Adshead and Lily Allen have both completed the 450-hour program, while Garrett Walker and Thomas Frazier have also committed.

Earning respect
DCPS is looking for the next candidates. A statement from the schools said, “There are still apprenticeship openings in various fields and in various companies starting this summer for those who just completed 11th grade — it isn’t too late! To graduate in 2022 with the honors distinction of an apprenticeship, students need to complete 450 hours of paid employment in their apprenticeship field over this summer and throughout their senior year. Their work schedule during school time will be dependent upon their diploma needs, and apprenticeship employers are aware and supportive of school activities such as athletics.”

The support of her employers — she called the crew at Eastern Shore Title Company her “work family” — made a big difference to Lily Allen. At that company, she said she was “respected for my effort, not age.”
The company had praise for the apprenticeship program through Project Bright Future, a regional alternative for youth seeking an alternative path to college. “Trust us, it’s a win-win,” a statement on social media says.

To learn more about apprenticeships through DCPS, contact Ms. Sorrells at 302-500-2383.
To learn more about Project Bright Future, visit projectbrightfuturemd.com.