CATEC Holding Signing Ceremony for Apprentices

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Electric educational space at CATEC Electric educational space at CATEC
Shannon Tomlin Shannon Tomlin
Casey Carwile Casey Carwile
Jacob Shaner Jacob Shaner

CATEC in Albemarle County is taking a page from the athletic world and starting its very own signing day ceremony to celebrate placed apprentices.

Tuesday night, more than a dozen students will publicly commit to on-the-job training with businesses in central Virginia.

Expanding its apprenticeship placements is part of CATEC's strategic improvement plan. This year's work is sending 19 students out of the classroom to get hands on, paid, learning of their crafts.

Car dealerships, cosmetic stores, and even restaurants are putting CATEC students to work.

“There are so many areas within Charlottesville that have tremendous needs, and we're trying to fill those skill gaps for these employers,” said CATEC Career Coordinator Shannon Tomlin.

Career coordinators at CATEC created the apprenticeship model.

“There's a youth-registered apprenticeship that we are a part of here at the high school, and then there are adult apprenticeships that we have the night program with,” Tomlin explained.

Employers contact CATEC for help, the school selects students who qualify, then businesses register with the state as a sponsor.

One of those businesses is in Charlottesville.

“It’s an opportunity to both earn and learn,” said Design Electric Personnel Director Casey Carwile.

Design Electric's apprenticeships turn students into licensed electricians. The company's four-year apprenticeship program gives students 8,000 hours of paid training, plus a few hundred hours in the classroom once a week. Coordinators say they can start out making $30,000 to $70,000 a year.

“For an electrician willing to travel to certain high-growth areas of Virginia, you could be making six-figures in a few short years,” Carwile said.

“I really didn't want to be in the classroom,” said apprentice 17-year-old Jacob Shaner.

Shaner is a part-time student at Monticello High School. He's already working jobs in the community.

“We're doing home theaters, audio, security, structured wire, everything to and from such as that,” he said.

For him, the apprenticeship started as a way to get out of class.

“Yeah, absolutely, I don't like being in the classroom, so getting out every single day going out to different projects is exciting,” Shaner said.

But now he's also building a whole new skill set as he works to earn his pilot's license in his spare time.

“I applied to do this just so I could have the trade as a backup plan,” he said.

The apprenticeship signing ceremony is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, at CATEC's campus in Albemarle County.