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Tech group aims to grow IT apprenticeships

  • Photo special to the Savannah Morning News - An Industrial Maintenance System student from Savannah Technical College works during his apprenticeship at JCB in Pooler.
  • Photo courtesy of Savannah Technical College - Savannah Technical College students and JCB apprentices Charles Carter and Ramon Gonzalez recently won a Silver Medal at Skills USA Nationals in Mechatronics. SkillsUSA is a career and technical student organization that serves more than 320,000 students–and their instructors–in technical, skilled and service-occupation instructional programs.

For many college graduates a degree doesn’t always guarantee a job. Employers often seek experience in addition to education or training, which can pose a problem for recent graduates, so one local group is helping to promote the benefits of apprenticeships within the local tech community in an effort to bolster the local job market.

“When a company wants to offer an apprenticeship we don’t want them to feel like they have to reinvent the wheel. There are a lot of things that are successful that are happening here..,” said Technology Association of Georgia Savannah director, Casey Herrington.

On Monday, TAG Savannah hosted a forum that brought together local information technology specialists and representatives from the state’s technical and university college system to discuss the benefits of apprenticeships to Savannah’s workforce.

Aside from providing real world experience and helping to drive businesses to the area TAG Savannah board member Teddy Hickox said apprenticeship programs also teach students the soft skills they need for employment, mainly effective communication.

“A lot of our younger generations don’t have people skills. Those apprenticeships teach those kids it’s not just about being on the computer, but it’s actually communicating face-to-face with someone,” he said.

Technical College System of Georgia’s apprenticeship specialist, Kenny Adkins said the benefits of apprenticeship programs are in the numbers. According to Adkins, about 90 percent of program participants are still employed with the same company during the first three years after their apprenticeship is done.

“They come to you relatively unskilled, so they’re paid less and along the way you can cultivate that corporate culture that you want in that employee and pay them more as they go along,” Adkins said of the benefits for employers.

“(Students) see a career track instead of just a paycheck every Friday. … It’s great for the individual because they can earn as they learn.”

For companies that are interesting in offering apprenticeships, Adkins said that there is no certain blueprint, but instead they can figure out what order of certification and training works best for their company’s needs.

“It’s a very flexible system that can be tailored to how a company wants to run their program,” he said.

For those in the local area who are interested in tech jobs, Herrington announced that TAG Savannah will soon launch an online job board in an effort to grow local job market.

“It’s meant to hold those apprenticeship jobs and one of the purposes of it is to show students that there are technology jobs here in Savannah,” Herrington said.

“Our goal is to try and retain talent in the Savannah area.”

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On the web

For more information on apprenticeships and the Technical College System of Georgia, go to www.tcsg.edu/apprenticeship

For more information about the Technology Association of Georgia Savannah, go to www.tagonline.org/chapters-and-societies/savannah

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