Insights shared by companies that have apprentices
The Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce held a “Lunch and Learn” event with the Virginia Department of Education on the various apprenticeship opportunities that are available to local businesses on Tuesday at the Salem Civic Center.
The event included an information session from the VDOE on the 12 different program levels, a panel discussion with city of Roanoke, Roanoke County and city of Salem school administrators and a panel of company representatives with experience in the program who shared their thoughts and experiences.
The following individuals were on the panel: Jess Traux of Roanoke City Public Schools, Mark Jones of Roanoke County Public Schools, Tracy Fobare of Salem High School, Jamie Soltis of Salem City Schools, Shane Rucker of Graham White/Wabtec, Neil Norris of Western Virginia Water Authority, Morgan Byrd of Lawrence Companies and Hannah Donovan of G. J. Hopkins.
The discussion was primarily facilitated by Diana Lyons, supervisor and registered apprenticeship consultant for the SW Region of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, and Kim Radford, a work-based learning specialist for Superintendent’s Region 6 with the Virginia Department of Education, spoke about the various apprenticeship opportunities.
Business leaders who attended learned about how to launch an apprenticeship program in their organizations as a way to create a talent pipeline and prevent a staffing shortage.
Lyons noted that registered apprenticeships have been available in Virginia for 85 years. Currently, there are an average of 1,250 occupations and 15,000 registered apprentices in the program.
“Registered apprenticeship helps to ensure that Virginia has a highly skilled and credentialed workforce,” she said. She added that the return on investment for each apprentice is around 44.3% for employers.
The primary focus of the event was on the department’s Career and Technical Education High-Quality Work-Based Learning Opportunities and specifically the Youth Registered Apprenticeship. The Youth Registered Apprenticeship involves employers providing on-the-job training with CTE programs providing related technical instruction, which can be credited toward an adult Registered Apprenticeship program. Requirements include apprentices being 16 years of age, the work either being part-time or full-time but being paid and the employer registering with the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.
Jones spoke about his division’s partnership with the Roanoke Regional Water Authority. “I think it’s been a successful program on their behalf. They’ve got a fairly good retention rate. The kids get interested and stick with it,” he said. “We found businesses need workers. One of the best ways to do that is to start students young. Show them a pathway forward in the Roanoke Valley. Show them that they have a career path right here at home and how they’re going to achieve that path.”
The event was sponsored by the Greater Roanoke Workforce Development Board.