Studying for tests, late-night cramming, and project deadlines – all while also working a full-time job. For college students on a “normal” year, this may seem like a lot to juggle. Now, throw in a global pandemic to the mix and it turns into a completely new feat. But, despite changing work hours and transitioning to online schooling, Friday Services’ first class of manufacturing apprentices finished their semester with flying colors.
“We had to move to 10-hour shifts at three days and school with eight hours.,” said AvL Tech. apprentice Paul Vandergriff. “School was harder with online courses than in class, not being able to be hands-on, but I do love the on-the-job work and training.”
Vandergriff is one of the nine apprentices in Friday Services’ Apprenticeship Program, offering individuals a chance to get a free education while still earning a paycheck. “Work is going great,” said Vandergriff. “I’m getting great experience and it’s different than what I have done in the past.”
Although transitioning to online classes has put up a challenge, due to the COVID-19 crisis, the apprentices are still enjoying every moment and even, every project. “Once, we did a bridge-building contest where we had to build a bridge out of 100 popsicle sticks that had to withstand a certain pressure and then write a paper on the design,” said Vandergriff. “It was really fun and enjoyed it a lot, probably the most fun I had in school so far.”
“They all did remarkably well considering the circumstances,” said Shawn McCallister of Blue Ridge Community College. “It is a good group and I look forward to seeing them back next semester.”
As the program enters its second term, there are a lot of uncertainties in the air with the effects of the coronavirus on how classes are conducted. “I’m definitely concerned about more online classes,” said Vandergriff. But, this has not put a dampener on the apprentices’ excitement for the program. “The school is definitely a challenge for me, but I do love the on-the-job work and training,” said Vandergriff. “This is definitely something I’m loving.”
Friday Services has partnered with some of the leading local manufacturing companies in Buncombe and Henderson Counties, to offer individuals a chance to work, gain hands-on experience, and earn a certificate at Blue Ridge Community College in Mechatronics Engineering Technology, as an Industrial Manufacturing Production Technician.
Tuition and the cost of books are covered by grant funding. The starting pay is $14/hr. with increases per semester. Upon the completion of the program, apprentices are guaranteed employment at the company where their on-the-job training was given.
To learn more about the Friday Services’ Apprenticeship Program or to apply for the next apprenticeship class, visit our webpage or give us a call at (828)684-8700.