A week-long Pre-Apprenticeship High School Training Program was held in shop classes at Oliver Wolcott Technical High school this December, exposing students to trades that will be open for them in the highway construction industry upon graduation. This same program was also available to Bullard-Havens Tech (Bridgeport) and Ellis Tech (Danielson) students, with hopes to expand to other technical high schools across the state.
“Most technical high school students all have similar skills,” said Jeff Cathcart, Coordinator of the training program. “They can problem solve, measure, cut and install. Our goal here is to show how a variety of trades can apply to a field of work. We want to open doors to other fields by showing students something they don’t know exists for them.”
The labor, electrician, carpenter, iron workers and operating engineer unions are all partners in the pre-apprenticeship high school training program and took turns presenting to the students over the course of the program.
They are looking for the next generation of skilled-workers and have hopes that this program will help identify the “best of the best” according to Cathcart.
“This program has been a big help. I got to speak with someone from the electrical union and they explained avenues and career paths I can follow,” said Nick Maccione, Wolcott Tech Electrical student. “We get to explore different areas in construction and gain knowledge about different structures. It helps me gain more experience and better myself in the construction industry.”
Students were given hands-on training for work site or road flagging, and received certification and education on Call Before You Dig, work zone safety, harnesses and ladders, and work fall protection and using fire extinguishers.
In addition to hands-on skills and certifications earned over the one-week program, students also gain practical job-search tips and networking opportunities.
According to Stephanie Seitlinger, Dean of Students at Wolcott Tech, this program helps students learn the requirements they’ll need when they start looking for employment. Those studying electrical engineering, for example, will begin as apprentices and, if they’re successful, could be hired by the same company teaching them the ropes.
Technical high schools enroll students in the pre-apprenticeship program, which uses Work-based Learning to get them ready for a new career. Wolcott Tech currently has 54 students enrolled.
“[This program] should definitely happen next year,” said Bryanna Pound, Wolcott Tech Auto Collision and Repair student. “It is good experience and information and helps plan your future. I didn’t know all the benefits that come with a union job like health insurance or retirement plans.”