By Lee Anna Haney
Hendersonville – Ten former students from Henderson County high schools signed contracts with four advanced manufacturing companies recently as part of the Made in Henderson County Apprenticeship Program.
The Signing Day event, typically held prior to graduation at each high school, was held electronically due to COVID-19.
During a spring fraught with cancellations, postponements and constant change, the apprentices endured seemingly endless obstacles as they approached graduation and continued to progress through the competitive recruitment and selection process. That commitment will start to pay off as the students begin their first semester this month, making strides in the classroom and learning advanced manufacturing skills on the job. The apprentices will enter the program earning a salary of $14.00 per hour and will finish the program earning a minimum of $17.00 per hour. Upon completion of the program, the apprentices are guaranteed a full-time job offer.
“We could not be more proud of these former students,” said Dr. Wendy Frye, Director of High Schools at Henderson County Public Schools, “it’s one thing to graduate high school in a virtual world, it’s another thing to graduate high school while also participating in virtual job interviews and braving a global pandemic to demonstrate your commitment to your future.”
Launched in 2019, The Made in Henderson County Apprenticeship is a registered NC Apprenticeship with the NC Department of Commerce, offering participating students a tuition-free Mechatronics Engineering Certificate from Blue Ridge Community College (Blue Ridge) as well as state and federal credentials. Throughout the course of the program, apprentices alternate between attending class at Blue Ridge one day a week and working at one of the partners companies the rest of the week.
“It’s very exciting to welcome our second class of manufacturing apprentices on campus and to see the Made in Henderson County program continue to grow and connect local employers with the next generation of skilled and talented workforce, said Dr. Laura Leatherwood, President of Blue Ridge Community.
The Made in Henderson County Apprenticeship program is a partnership between Blue Ridge Community College, Henderson County Public Schools, Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, and the participating companies: Elkamet, WestRock, Mountain Showcase Group, GF Linamar. The development of the program and its successful launch was funded in part through the Community Foundation of Henderson County.
“This innovative program affords both awareness and opportunity to the rising talent of young people in our community,” said Community Foundation President/CEO McCray Benson. “Community Foundation is proud to be a part of this multi-organizational effort to support and launch our community’s next generation.”
“The Made in Henderson County Apprenticeship program is reliant on the numerous partnerships that were forged to create this program, we’re very grateful to have support from different organizations across the community that have invested in its success, said Beau Waddell, Chair of Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, the future is bright for these ten apprentices and for future classes of apprentices to come.”
List of Students – Apprenticeship Class
Angel Castillo (Hendersonville High School)
Mason Green (East Henderson High School)
Xochitl Castillo (2015 graduate)
Manuel Garcia (East Henderson High School)
Morgan Davis (Hendersonville High School)
Luis Uriostegui (North Henderson High School)
Giovanni Melendez (Hendersonville High School)
Jeremiah Hansen (Hendersonville High School)
Mountain Showcase Group
Martin Hunter (Hendersonville High School)
Cameron King (North Henderson High School)