Four newly registered electricians in Upstate South Carolina were lauded by their respective employers, course instructors and others at a private graduation ceremony last month. The celebration recognized the group’s successful completion of a rigorous four-year, S.C. Department of Labor registered electrical apprenticeship program.
Registered apprenticeships are employer-sponsored training programs that produce highly skilled workers – a win-win for the employer and apprentice employees.
The Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program is a partnership among four regional electrical contractors – CarolinaPower, Hayes & Lunsford, Walker & Whiteside, and Watson Electrical. The apprenticeship program is administered by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Carolinas Chapter, with classes held at Greenville Technical College.
According to its founders and sponsors, graduates of the Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program are well prepared for permanent employment or have a solid foundation to pursue further education. ABC Carolinas Chapter, a strong proponent of construction industry apprenticeships, often refers to this and other electrical apprenticeships in the region as “the other four-year degree.”
Apprentices work full-time during the day, attending classes one evening per week at Greenville Tech. The comprehensive program teaches the skills for both construction and maintenance electricians. The Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program utilizes curriculum developed by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER). Participants begin with NCCER Core Curriculum – Introductory Craft Skills, followed by NCCER Electrical Level I to IV classes. Successful completers receive a certificate from the college and a nationally recognized credential from NCCER.
The Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program is showing steady growth. The Program has graduated 16 electricians since its inception in 2008 and currently has 17 students in various stages of the curriculum.
The vision for 2019 is to double the enrollment of first-year apprentices as well as the number of participating contractors.
“Highly skilled electricians are in high demand, especially field supervisors” said CarolinaPower Vice President Chris Moore, who chairs the Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship committee. “It’s not often that local competitors find themselves on the same team, but in this case, we are happy to partner with peers for the greater good of our industry. All of us believe in the Program and know it’s a worthwhile investment.”
Moore noted that many young people and their parents find the program’s combination of classroom, laboratory, and live work experiences to be extremely appealing – once they know it exists. Technology is a big part of today’s electrical construction, another draw for the younger generation.
Looking ahead into 2019, Moore and his counterparts will continue to focus on raising awareness of this “best-kept-secret career option” and its nearly limitless opportunities for personal growth.
Class of 2018 graduates (pictured left to right) included
Cameron Ridgeway (Hayes & Lunsford), James Ellison (Walker & Whiteside), Mark Hammond (Walker & Whiteside) and Nathaniel Labadorf (CarolinaPower). The ceremony was held on December 7, 2018, at Greenville Technical College’s Center for Manufacturing Innovation.
While their backstories differ, each of the graduates cited a love for working with their hands and wanting to be part of building something. Walker & Whiteside’s James Ellison started out as an electrician’s helper. Mark Hammond, also of Walker and Whiteside, was interested in a second career after 15 years as a branch manager for Sherwin Williams. CarolinaPower’s Nate Labadorf, also studying to be a minister, wanted a dual-career. Cameron Ridgeway, Hayes & Lunsford, decided to pursue a career as an electrician after taking the core coursework in high school.
All four agreed that the Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program – although challenging at times – was well worth the commitment of time and energy.
Group Photo (L to R) : Tony Veramo, workforce development manager, CarolinaPower; Ronny Gillespie, project manager, Walker & Whiteside, and Level IV instructor; Cameron Ridgeway, program graduate, Hayes & Lunsford; David Steffens, regional training supervisor, Watson Electrical, and Level II instructor; James Ellison, program graduate, Walker & Whiteside; Jim Cox, president of Walker & Whiteside, and member of Apprenticeship Program committee; Mark Hammond, program graduate, Walker & Whiteside; Stephanie Gregg, Training & Development Director, Greenville Technical College; Nate Labadorf, program graduate; Matt Johnson, CarolinaPower department manager, and Level I instructor; Chris Moore, vice president and general manager, CarolinaPower, and chair of Apprenticeship Program committee; and Larry Roberson, program coordinator, Greenville Technical College.