The Future is Bright for Students at the Upper Valley Career Center
Monday, June 04, 2018
We had the opportunity to speak with Tony Trapp, Apprenticeship Coordinator at Upper Valley Career Center in Piqua, Ohio about the exciting transformation that is taking place among students. When they begin their junior year, they have an idea of what career they are interested in but typically do not have any real-world skills. By the beginning of their senior year, they are highly trained, capable, and can fully integrate into the adult workforce. The transformation is so complete, that it can be difficult to tell the difference between a student apprentice and an adult employee. This is possible because of the high quality of education and training students are receiving at the Upper Valley Career Center.
Growing our communities, one student at a time
Businesses are working closely with educators at local middle and high schools to inform students about the many opportunities there are to gain a high paying job, while staying within the community. They are breaking down barriers and presenting a new perspective about the options that are available to students after graduating high school. Their efforts allow students and parents to understand that it is possible to grow up, stay within the community, and earn a good living. It is possible with the right education and skill set - two things that the Upper Valley Career Center provides.
As a benefit to local businesses, when a student is recruited in high school, and directed to the Career Center, these same students can then apprentice with that business in their senior year. Through this process, businesses are growing their workforce internally, while being able to create the habits they want or need their workforce to have.
The apprenticeship program is growing
Five years ago, the apprenticeship program was launched at the Career Center. Since that time, the program has grown from 6 students to 62. These students are working in a variety of fields including manufacturing, construction, and automotive. Before they can participate in the program, they need to have completed safety training and met GPA and attendance requirements during their junior year. Those who meet these qualifications are matched with an employer, spend their summer working, and enter a two-week rotation during their senior year. This allows them to spend two weeks at the Center on academic work, with the next two weeks working full-time, like a traditional employee. Many businesses choose to take two student apprentices so that they can rotate and act like one full-time employee.
Students are getting excited
Where else can students earn upwards of $20,000 in their senior year of high school? For most high school students, earning pocket money is exciting. The opportunity to earn enough money to buy a car, pay for college, or save for a house is unheard of - unless you are a student apprentice. The average wage of a student apprentice is $13.39 per hour. Combined, these 62 students earned over $1 million in a single year. That is truly incredible and something that is getting additional students excited about the idea of attending the Career Center and entering one of the many professions they can be trained in. That’s good for students and for local businesses.
The Career Center’s success is so profound that Tony Trapp has been invited to speak within Ohio and nationally. Still, there are challenges to overcome - primarily the challenge of perception. A popular idea is that every student must go to college and that a technical school is a dead end career wise. This could not be further from the truth. Many of these students are earning the same or more than their peers who do attend college. Plus, they have the opportunity to begin making money faster and without student debt. Since local Ohio employers are hiring, they can do all this while living in the community where they grew up, or at least close to home. This is a significant advantage for students, the local workforce, and the entire community. The key is spreading that message so that even more students decide to pursue this path. We encourage the entire community to help us in speaking about the Upper Valley Career Center and the successes students are having. We ask for help in spreading the word that Ohio employers are hiring and the opportunities found at home are truly exciting.