Time for your Apprentice? by IGONC President John Hill

Hopefully you were able to attend ASTE and gain from the experience. What a great event! It is always so exciting  to see all of your industry friends and terrific instructors gathered in one place, all for the goal of improving  businesses and lives. Thanks to the entire team of staff (Bob & Tricia) and volunteers who make it all happen. 2020 promises to be even better so make your plans now to join us September 24-26th.

If you were present, you couldn’t help but see and learn of the recently launched IGO Apprenticeship Program. Many of you know that I have had numerous apprentices over the past several years. For me, it’s kind of easy as I have Dudley High School and The Weaver Education Center right in my backyard at the shop. Both offer outstanding Automotive programs for high school students in Guilford County. The instructors have become close friends. Dudley High School is more of the traditional high school where students remain on campus throughout their day. Their automotive center is right on campus, a layout similar to 5 other high schools in the county.  At Weaver Center, the students can get all of their required courses to go along with their performing arts and vocational education classes at one location. However, most of Weaver’s students travel to this Downtown location for things other than their core academic classes which they take at their “home” school. Guilford County has 26 high school campuses, with 7 being considered alternative schools. There are buses running continuous throughout the school day to get students back and forth to Weaver, in addition, many students have their own transportation.

In coming newsletters, I will be sharing of the experiences I’ve enjoyed with apprentices employed with our companies. It’s important that you know that we have had 26 apprentices over the years. One of businesses’ general manager came to us as an apprentice 17 years ago while a senior at Weaver Center. We also currently employ 2 younger apprentices, one of which is junior at nearby A & T State University. The other came to us nearly two years ago while a senior at Weaver. He worked part time while in high school and is currently working full time at our business, having decided presently to not continue with school. He is impressive and is making really good money for a 19-year-old………. that may be contributing to his staying on full time?

For me it was a challenge allowing for such a situation as most of our apprentices that came to us while in high school would continue with their 2-year Associates Degree at a minimum. This apprentice and I had a discussion where I pushed him on continuing his education. His reply was a courteous “I understand. I don’t plan to return to school right now……. I would like to work”. I need to mention that his brother has his own shop in a town about 45 minutes form our store. In the beginning the mild mannered instructor who referred him to us had said clearly “This kid is the exception……..he can go to work anywhere tomorrow”.  Much of his success has come from our shop foreman taking him on practically as a son and ensuring his success.

Keep watching and I’ll share from the years of experiences with our apprentices. You need to be prepared as over half of them didn’t work out as planned and may have left the industry altogether by now. Like the star high school quarterback, Ben, we once tried as an automotive apprentice………………….we quickly suggested he stick with his athletics career path. Not sure where he’s at today. I’m going to go look him up.

It’s the ones that stayed in the industry that make it all worthwhile.