Henry Ford left the family farm in 1879 to become an apprentice machinist. With each turn of the lathe and each rotation of a mill, Ford developed his fascination for machines and honed skills that inspired him to develop the first affordable, mass-produced automobile.
Apprenticeships are one way American workers have prepared for careers. The familiar blueprint includes a person agreeing to work for an experienced craftsman in return for receiving on-the-job instruction.
Canadian Valley Technology Center has partnered with a local business to put a new twist on a time-honored tradition with registered apprenticeships. They carry the approval of the U.S. Department of Labor, which provides each apprentice with a nationally recognized credential upon completion.
Registered apprenticeships fit well into the framework of Oklahoma Career Tech’s goal to provide applied skills training and applied learning for real-life job opportunities, said CV Tech Superintendent/CEO Dr. Gayla Lutts.
Skills and a Paycheck
Four CV Tech Precision Machining students are participating. Each spends two days each week at school. Related instruction includes skills, such as blueprint reading, measurements and using the tools of a machinist.
Each also spends three days a week onsite at Security Solutions, of Mustang, which is the first participating business. Students are paid $15 per hour during the individualized program, which is based on proficiency and could take a year to complete. Per the agreement, hourly pay increases to $18 for successful graduates plus benefits for those who are hired as full-time employees.
“This apprenticeship program connects student career seekers with employers at the ideal time they are learning specialized skills,” Lutts said. “Students benefit not only from practical application of newly acquired skills on a job site but also by being paid to do so. Local businesses also will benefit by having employees trained to very specific objectives.
“Canadian Valley is proud to play a vital role in preparing students for careers and partnering with businesses in our communities. This specialized apprenticeship approach for our students, local businesses and our economy is only part of what makes the Oklahoma Career Tech system so special and unique.”
Securing the Present and Future
Security Solutions was established in 1972. The company patented a door lock system that allows changing of keys instead of replacing costly cores when re-keying is necessary. The company also provides security products and services for more than 50,000 retail stores across the U.S.
Company President/CEO Bill Dillard said the apprenticeships are the realization of a long-term dream of his in terms of what workforce development and career opportunities could be.
“I am highly enthusiastic,” Dillard said. “CV Tech and other tech centers get skillsets into the toolbox for people. The apprenticeships allow students to go to work and have success and failure in a productive environment. We’re paying them to learn. I am so excited to have the tech centers going this direction, because it means we will have more opportunity to identify, train and develop people as we develop products.”
Security Solutions Vice President Steve Whetstone said apprenticeships of this kind are long overdue in Oklahoma.
“Our partners often talk about soft skills or the learning curve that you can’t get out of a book or in a classroom environment,” Whetstone said. “Those things get taught on a hands-on basis through apprenticeships and from the foundations of work ethic that carry forward throughout their careers.”
Several other apprenticeship opportunities are underway. CV Tech officials and are exploring adding additional programs and more businesses. CV Tech offers dozens of full-time, career prep programs at locations also including Chickasha and Yukon. Visit cvtech.edu for more information.