Apprenticeship program soaring at Lake of the Ozarks
An apprenticeship program started last year at the Lake Career and Technical Center with three apprentices in the marine tech field. Now, after a grant and a partnership with the Eldon Career Center, there are 16 apprentices in marine tech, auto tech, I.T. and welding.
"I'm a big believer of learning beyond the classroom walls," said Jackie Jenkins, Lake Career and Technical Center Director.
Of the 16 apprentices between the two technical centers, there are two in automotive technician training at Lake Career Technical Center.
"They do steering suspension, they do brakes, they do engine performance, they do automatic transmissions, manual transmissions, HVAC, heating ventilating, and air conditioning," said Paul Flemming, Automotive Technology Instructor.
The apprentices are all working with local businesses like Surdyke Yamaha, Camdenton School District, Dependable Automotive, Midwest Computech, and several other companies to learn the trade and potentially get a full time job with that business.
"Right now, the number that's been hired? I believe we're at eight," Jenkins said.
The program, which is seeing success, is possible because of state grant money LCTC and Eldon Career Center teamed up to apply for last year.
"We're blazing the trail in that we're the first career centers to ever receive a grant through the Department of Workforce Development," Jenkins added.
The grant money allowed the two career centers to hire a coordinator to oversee the apprenticeship processes - making sure the apprentices and businesses are both benefiting from the program, and helping those apprentices land full time work.
The teachers involved say having a program like this is huge for the lake region.
"There is a skills gap that is taking place where more positions are actually available than are actually getting filled at this stage. With today's economy, that's a rarity," Flemings said. "These kinds of programs are actually designed to getting those positions filled, and trying to get people back into the mode to understand that you don't need a four-year degree to make good money and make a good living anymore."