Missouri State University-West Plains recently hosted a graduation event for nine students who participated in the first registered apprenticeship program at the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT) in West Plains.
Funded through a Missouri Registered Apprenticeship Grant from the Missouri Economic Development Division of Workforce Development, the program brought together a coalition at GOCAT that included Missouri State-West Plains, the South Central Workforce Investment Board (SCWIB), the Missouri Registered Apprenticeship Program, the U.S. Department of Labor and two local companies.
“A registered apprenticeship is an earn-and-learn program where a student is employed by a company and earns a paycheck throughout their education and on-the-job training. At the end of the apprenticeship, they receive college credit and an industry issued, nationally recognized credential,” said Sheila Barton, Missouri State-West Plains’ director of workforce development at GOCAT.
“As an educational institution, empowering our students to enhance their skills and develop careers is what we do,” she added. “Being the educational component of an apprenticeship provides a perfect partnership for training the current workers who need technology-focused skills as industries become more automated.”
The apprentices completed one of three specific certificate programs on Sept. 6: Advanced Industrial Maintenance, Advanced Manufacturing and Manufacturing Management.
The apprenticeship program is layered, consisting of related academic instruction and on-the-job training with mentors at each of the designated companies. The apprentices trained in various areas of maintenance, manufacturing and management, and were required to meet competencies in order to gain credentialing from the U.S. Department of Labor.
A growing need
“This initial offering of apprenticeships by Missouri State-West Plains through our GOCAT initiative is an important step in the evolution of our workforce development program here at the university and in our region,” said Dr. Dennis Lancaster, dean of academic affairs.
“While this was a new idea for us, the use of apprenticeships to develop highly skilled workers is definitely not a new idea in Europe, where this is the norm and not the exception. Our venture into this specialized student-worker training brings all of our partners even closer as we strive to meet the worker and skills-development demands of our area,” he added.
Key local assistance
All candidates were selected through a pre-screening and interview process by the participating companies:
- Jasper Engines and Transmissions, sponsoring Zach Gregory, Bucyrus, and Harley Curtis, Birch Tree
- Leonardo-DRS, sponsoring Dustin Howell, Thayer; Daniel Truman, Koshkonong; and Shelby Barton, Jennifer Amyx, Jackie Callahan, Gary Drown and Jodie Pounders, all of West Plains
The partnering companies provided the work experience to ensure professional skills while Missouri State-West Plains provided classroom training.
For information on how to sponsor an apprenticeship contact Barton at 417-255-7784 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Roy Crouch, Missouri State-West Plains education/outreach specialist at GOCAT, at 417-255-7785.