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To meet jobs demand, OCC launches apprenticeship program

Onondaga Community College
A manufacturing student learns the trade at Onondaga Community College.

Onondaga Community College is working with local manufacturers on a program that will offer training that will lead to apprenticeships and jobs - and individuals will be paid while they learn.

Mike Metzgar of OCC’s Economic and Workforce Development Department says it’s a good fit at a time when manufacturers struggle to find skilled workers, and students want to be assured of a job.

“It isn’t typically the purview of training you'll see in traditional college, university or high school," Metzgar said. "This allows us to bring that together. Manufacturers have a hard time finding talent, and we have people coming to us looking for a good job.”

Metzgar says it turns the standard timetable for finding a job on its ear.

"Like normally, you go to college, you get school, and hopefully get a job afterwards," He said. "By starting backwards, saying you have a job and you’re hired, it allows the student to fully commit to the work at hand."

Students begin a ten-week long program, trained in things like machinist and tool-making skills, as well as soft job skills. They start getting paid minimum wage immediately. After completing the program, they embark on a four-year apprenticeship with the promise of a job at the end.

Currently there are five local manufacturers offering jobs. Metzgar says this program encourages people to consider manufacturing, which often has difficulty finding skilled employs. He says it also appeals to individuals who can’t afford to lose a paycheck while upgrading skills.

While this round of the AACT program focuses on manufacturing, Metzgar expects it has other applications.

"I think it’s got legs in health care," Metzgar said. "I think it’s got legs in other fields. I think apprenticeship is still sorely underutilized in this country.”

OCC is holding an information session on the program Tuesday evening.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.