Multimedia Journalist

Eldon apprenticeship program prepares youth for success

During an ice-breaker activity Monday, Missouri Registered Apprenticeship Program participants work on their people skills at the 2019 Winter Workshop. Photo by Danisha Hogue /News Tribune.

The Missouri Registered Apprenticeship Program has grown past its original expectations in Mid-Missouri, as evidenced by its success in the Eldon R-1 School District.

The Eldon Career Center and Lake Career and Technical Center hosted a workshop Monday in Eldon with partners from the Missouri Department of Economic Development’s Division of Workforce Development, U.S. Department of Labor and Missouri Job Center to keep students on track for successful careers.

“Our purpose today is to connect and facilitate current youth and adult registered apprentices with the entities associated with the Registered Apprenticeship Program and provide a clear pathway to apprenticeship sustainment,” Eldon MORAP grant coordinator Cynthia Walker said.

Seven Eldon students are employed locally through the Eldon Career Center’s program at entities including Lloyd Belt Automotive and the Eldon R-1 School District.

“I’m hoping to become a certified automotive technician and make it in the workforce and be able to live comfortably,” junior Braeden George-Weeces said.

The two-year apprenticeship program trains youth in a hands-on environment in trades.

Eldon has the highest number of youth apprentices in the state, Walker said.

“They’ve done a tremendous job not only getting the students to go through the process to figure out who was going to start in the apprenticeship program, but they’ve brought on the employers that are needed to provide the job opportunities for the youth apprentices,” said Donna Brake, a work-based learner coordinator with the Division of Workforce Development.

The Eldon school district received a $90,000 grant for the program.

Brake said the state is invested in the program and assured participants it’s a big deal for their future.

“Only 50 percent of high school graduates go on to college; from that 50 percent, only 30 percent graduate. Additionally, college graduates are not 100 percent equipped for today’s available jobs as it is,” Brake said.

Apprenticeship programs eliminate thousands of dollars in student debt, and participants receive national occupational credentials, she added.

Representatives from the Missouri Job Center told the group how they can provide assistance as they get deeper into their trade. Those eligible for the program receive services to bridge the cost gap like purchasing tools, starter equipment and more education.

“An on-the-job training program is for those who have no experience in the field for which they are wanting to enter, so what we would do is we would work with that employer so it kind of just gets your foot in the door into a job that you typically wouldn’t land,” Career Manager Jaci Howard said.

The group also worked on developing people skills through the John Maxwell Career Readiness Workshop.

In December, the Eldon R-1 School District approved a pre-apprenticeship Jobs for American Graduates program to begin in the 2019-20 school year. Both programs are targeted toward students who may not want a four-year college degree.

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