A group of business and community leaders visited the Alamo Academies in San Antonio as part of the 2013 Metro Leadership Visit. The Alamo Academies are different than traditional Career Academies in that high school students attend the local community college at the same time they are completing high school and intern with a local employer.
Following the visit, Trident Technical College created the new Workforce Academies as a Youth Apprenticeship program for high school juniors and seniors. The Chamber, in partnership with Trident Technical College, Apprentice South Carolina and six area manufacturing firms launched a pilot program in August 2014 with 13 area high school juniors.
At the end of the pilot year, the program was expanded and today includes 30 area companies and 62 high school students.
The students take their normal high school programs and also travel to Trident Technical College two to three days per week were they are enrolled in dual credit classes in a specific area. They also apprentice at an area company for about 10 hours per week. During the summer between the junior and senior year, the students work full-time as paid apprentices.
The Chamber, through it’s Accelerate Greater Charleston fund, gives every Youth Apprentice a full scholarship covering all their classes and textbooks. Youth Apprentices finish the program with zero college debt.
At the end of the two-year program, students will have earned a high school diploma, certification in a specific field from Trident Tech, credentialing from the U.S. Department of Labor, and two years of paid work experience.
In May 2015, Suntrust Bank’s Region President and CEO Mark Lattanzio publicly showed his company’s support of the Youth Apprentice Program by a generous donation of $25,000. “SunTrust is deeply committed to supporting the community, and through programs like Youth Apprenticeship, we know we are helping students build successfully futures for themselves, their families and for the continued prosperity of our region. Expanding the apprenticeship program helps us all.”