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Greenville Business Magazine

Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program Experiences Record Enrollment For First-Year Students

Jan 30, 2019 10:48AM ● By Kathleen Maris

Photo: Class of 2018 graduates James Ellison, Mark Hammond, Nathaniel Labadorf, and Cameron Ridgeway.

The Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program, for which classes are held at Greenville Technical College, experienced record enrollment this month for first-year electrical apprentices. A total of 16 students started the rigorous, four-year, state-registered electrical apprenticeship program, which allows those enrolled to “earn while they learn.” Registered apprenticeships are employer-sponsored training programs that produce highly skilled workers – a win-win for the employer and apprentice employees.

The Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program is a partnership among four regional electrical contractors – CarolinaPowerHayes & LunsfordWalker & Whiteside, and Watson Electrical. Last month, four newly registered electricians were lauded by their respective employers, course instructors and others at a private graduation ceremony in Greenville. According to Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program founders and sponsors, graduates are well prepared for permanent employment. They also have a solid foundation for pursuing further education.

The program is administered by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Carolinas Chapter, a strong proponent of construction industry apprenticeships. ABC Carolinas Chapter often refers to this and other electrical apprenticeships in the region as “the other four-year degree.”

Apprentices work full-time during the day, attending classes one evening per week at Greenville Tech. The comprehensive program teaches the skills for both construction and maintenance electricians. The Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program utilizes curriculum developed by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).

Participants begin with NCCER Core Curriculum – Introductory Craft Skills, followed by NCCER Electrical Level I to IV classes. Successful completers receive a certificate from the college and a nationally recognized credential from NCCER.

The Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program is showing steady growth. The Program has graduated 16 electricians since its inception in 2008. The vision for 2019 is to double the enrollment of first-year apprentices as well as the number of participating contractors.

“Highly skilled electricians are in high demand, especially field supervisors,” said CarolinaPower Vice President Chris Moore, who chairs the Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship committee. “It’s not often that local competitors find themselves on the same team, but in this case, we are happy to partner with peers for the greater good of our industry. All of us believe in the program and know it’s a worthwhile investment.”

Moore noted that many young people and their parents find the program’s combination of classroom, laboratory, and live work experiences to be extremely appealing – once they know it exists. Technology is a big part of today’s electrical construction, another draw for the younger generation.

Looking ahead into 2019, Moore and his counterparts will continue to focus on raising awareness of this “best-kept-secret career option” and its nearly limitless opportunities for personal growth.

Class of 2018 graduates included James Ellison (Walker & Whiteside), Mark Hammond (Walker & Whiteside), Nathaniel Labadorf (CarolinaPower), and Cameron Ridgeway (Hayes & Lunsford). The ceremony was held on December 7, 2018, at Greenville Technical College’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation.

While their backstories differ, each of the graduates cited a love for working with their hands and wanting to be part of building something. Ellison started out as an electrician’s helper. Hammond was interested in a second career after 15 years as a branch manager for Sherwin Williams. Labadorf wanted a dual-career. Ridgeway decided to pursue a career as an electrician after taking the core coursework in high school.

All four agreed that the Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program – although challenging at times – was well worth the commitment of time and energy.