Engineering firm Britt, Peters and Associates has registered an apprenticeship program through Apprenticeship Carolina.
Developed for its drafters and engineers, the company’s apprenticeship program represents the first registered program for a design engineering company in the Upstate and is a continuation of the company's successful internship and co-op programs, according to a news release.
Apprenticeship Carolina is the U.S. Department of Labor's official liaison for registering all apprenticeship programs - both adult and youth - in South Carolina. The program is a division of the S.C. Technical College System. Since its inception in 2007, the number of participating organizations has increased from 90 to just over 800, and the number of apprentices has grown from 777 to more than 16,700.
"This program will allow us another opportunity to hire and retain the brightest talent in each of our locations,” said Mark Peters, president and CEO of Britt, Peters and Associates, in the release.
The apprenticeship program at Britt, Peters and Associates will be tied to the apprentices' associates, bachelor’s or master’s degree and combine on-the-job learning with job-related education.
Maggie Kleger is director of marketing and business development for Britt, Peters and Associates, and also helps with recruiting. She said the firm has operated apprentice-type programs for six or seven months now; and it is not something that was newly created to be registered with Apprenticeship Carolina.
“We do on-the-job training all of the time,” she said. “It’s how we grow and stay competitive.”
Kleger said in a year’s time, approximately 10 cooperative education students will rotate through the various disciplines and offices of Britt, Peters and Associates. Co-op students split their time between classes and on-the-job training, she said. The firm will hire as many as five interns each year.
Apprenticeship Carolina has a growth strategy that sets it apart from other apprentice programs, according to Carla Whitlock, senior consultant for Apprenticeship Carolina.
"We made a conscious decision to break down the traditional barriers to registered apprenticeship,” Whitlock said in the release. “Programs like Britt, Peters and Associates' show that we're redefining a centuries old concept and making it something that has real value for business and industry in South Carolina."
Kelly Steinhilper, vice president of communications for the S.C. Technical College System, told GSA Business Report that many people “tend to think of traditional trades such as construction worker, electrician and plumber as ideal occupations for apprenticeship.”
“Apprenticeship Carolina proactively broadened that scope to include nontraditional industry sectors like healthcare, information technology, tourism and advanced manufacturing,” she said. “This innovative approach has led to our phenomenal growth.”
According to information from Steinhilper, an apprenticeship is a “time-tested method of employee development that combines supervised on-the-job learning and job-related education.”
“South Carolina leads the nation in growth and diversity of apprentices,” Steinhilper said, adding South Carolina has a higher number of female and minority apprentices than the national average — 29% of the state’s apprentices are female compared to 5.6% nationally, and 44% of the state’s active apprentices are minority compared to 35% nationally.
“South Carolina and Apprenticeship Carolina are held as a model for the nation. We’ve won the National Trailblazers Award and have been asked to participate in White House roundtables,” Steinhilper said. “We also hosted the U.S. Secretary of Labor last year during his American Apprenticeship Initiative tour.”