For centuries across the globe, apprenticeships have been a powerful method of preparing young people for future careers. And while a lot has changed since this kind of on-the-job training began way back in the Middle Ages, it remains a powerful 21st Century workforce development tool.
An exciting new apprenticeship program at Bossier Parish Community College – created in partnership with local business and industry – trains students for future full-time work with a company, while earning a degree in a related field at no cost to them.
“Apprenticeships are a win-win for both employers and students,” says Beonica Rutherford-Frazier, BPCC project director for work-based learning and apprenticeships. “They help employers on-board talent they feel good about, and they help students gain the skills they need to succeed on the job.”
After months of planning, BPCC was recognized as a Louisiana-registered apprenticeship sponsor by the Louisiana State Apprenticeship Council in 2019.
The duration of the college’s apprenticeship programs can last anywhere from one to five years, depending on the company, and require competency-based completion rather than time-based completion. Apprenticeships for industrial maintenance technicians and electrical technicians launched in Fall 2019, with placements at BENTELER Steel/Tube, General Electric and Libbey Glass. More companies are expected to partner with BPCC in the future.
The program is an exceptional opportunity for high school graduates and incumbent workers interested in a career change. In the current program for industrial maintenance technicians and electrical technicians, companies pay for students to complete an Industrial Technology associate’s degree, while providing additional onsite training. Apprentices also earn a stipend. By the time they complete the program, they have earned a degree at no cost, mastered high-level, on-the-job training and are prepared to go to work full-time on day one. The experience and problem-solving skills they gain help them succeed immediately and over the course of their careers.
“The apprenticeship program is a good investment because we have a unique opportunity to train, develop and prepare motivated graduates for a safe transition into full-time employment at BENTELER Steel/Tube in Shreveport, keeping our business competitive and our team skilled,” says BENTELER Steel/Tube Human Resource Manager Paulo Figueira.
BENTELER officials worked closely with BPCC over several months to develop the hands-on training components, and also to shape coursework so that it neatly aligns with the company’s needs.
“As we developed the program, we pulled out those two concentrations (Industrial maintenance and Automation and Controls) and BENTELER created job competencies that matched those academic learning objectives,” says Frazier. “The program is paced in such a way that work competencies flow with degree requirements. In other words, students get classwork and lab work that are relevant and directly aligned.”
BENTELER Steel/Tube opened in Shreveport in 2015. The facility produces seamless hot-rolled steel tubes and seamless cold-drawn precision steel tubes for global customers in the automotive, OCTG/line pipe, heat transfer, hydraulics/precision engineering, and construction sectors.
BPCC-BENTELER apprentices prepare for their future jobs in the classroom setting and in sophisticated labs on the BPCC campus that mimic the actual instruments and work flow inside the steel/tube facility. In fact, prior to BENTELER’s Shreveport opening, BPCC built a $21 million Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering Technology on campus to support the workforce training needs of BENTELER and other companies in the advanced manufacturing sector. The Center’s two large industrial bays feature equipment that replicates the work environment at BENTELER and other facilities.
BPCC Vice Chancellor of Economic and Workforce Development Dr. Gayle Flowers expects the college’s apprenticeship programs to continue to grow.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg. We have a huge opportunity to expand the ‘learn and earn’ model to many more occupations needed by employers in our region,” Flowers says. “We are poised and ready to establish additional apprenticeships. By meeting the workforce development needs of our business and industry partners through apprenticeships, we help employers onboard new talent for expansion efforts and for replacement of retiring workers, and we enable students to begin meaningful, paid work while they are learning skills that ensure career value and advancement.”
Get started on your apprenticeship journey today. For more information about BPCC’s apprenticeship programs, contact the college here. You can also check out BENTLER’s currently open positions by visiting Louisiana Job Connection.