A Delaware Area Career Center student has signed an agreement with Corna Kokosing and will be piloting a new apprenticeship program this year.
Austin Duckworth, a senior at Big Walnut studying welding at the DACC, signed an apprenticeship agreement with local construction company Corna Kokosing last month and will spend the rest of the year altering a full work week and a full week of classes.
Career Tech Supervisor Carrie Trusley said the partnership is the first of its type at the career center.
“As a pre-apprentice, we want to serve as the first year of say a four-year program so that when students get out of high school, instead of taking four years to get a journeyman’s license, they can do it in three years,” Trusley said. “He has a specific training plan where we check in with his supervisor at work, and we’ll do job site visits.”
Trusley said the program is beneficial for the students, career center, and the business.
“The fact that they are getting the leg up in the apprenticeship program really is what makes it different than anything else we do,” she said. “We are partnering with business, and they commit to additional training and investing in students and getting them started on their way early … Our students set themselves apart by having this work experience in their field with experienced professionals, and I think businesses are clamoring with good employees with the right skill sets and we can certainly try and meet that need. This is an exciting opportunity for the whole team.”
Duckworth worked over the summer at Corna Kokosing. He’s already put in a full week of work and overtime with the company since the apprenticeship formally started at the end of October.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to work for an entire week and then come back here and learn the same things I’m using at work,” Duckworth said. “I like being able to weld and learn fabrication of things outside of the shop. I like doing bigger projects.”
Duckworth thanked the career center and welding instructor Bradley DeMent for training him and giving him the opportunity.
“I feel accomplished,” Duckworth said. “Coming here and finding the job that I got I realize how good I have it. I’ve already signed up for after graduation. Ten days after graduation I start my apprenticeship. Since I started here, I get a year taken off, so it’s only a two-year apprenticeship … (First year apprentices) usually learn in a classroom, but I’m learning it here, hands on. (The Career Center) is a lot of people eager to go work.”
DeMent said the program will give Duckworth a real edge after he leaves the career center.
“He has a head-start into the industry,” DeMent said. “He’s saving time and getting a leg up on everyone else his age that’ll be entering after they graduate. They’ll be the same level and same age, but he’ll have a year more experience.”
DeMent said he hopes more industry partners will put together apprenticeship programs with the career center.
“It helps them out, and it helps our students out,” Dement said. “Career tech is a good place to go, it helps out everybody. The more they know the better, whether it’s here or out in the industry, as long as they are learning it safely.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.