Jessica White was employed as a cashier when she heard about Onondaga Community College’s Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training Program. “I was working in the retail industry. This was an opportunity to do something different and gain knowledge and skills.” In October White and eleven other students began coming to Feldmeier Equipment Inc. of Syracuse five days a week. They were paid while training for positions including welder and metal refinisher. Fledmeier employees taught students work skills while OCC instructor Bill Cullen focused on the soft skills they would need to be successful both in the work place and in life. “We wanted people to have good character, integrity, learnability and teachability. That’s what employers are looking for,” said Cullen.
On Friday, January 11 the students celebrated the end of their training and the start of a 4-year apprenticeship with Feldemeier which makes stainless steel processing equipment for a wide range of businesses including those specializing in pharmaceuticals, biotech and cosmetics along with brewers, food, dairy and beverage processing facilities. “The biggest obstacle for us growing our business is having an adequate number of employees. This gives us a great start toward our goals. We couldn’t be more excited. We can’t compliment OCC enough on their efforts and what a great job they did,” said Dave Pollock, Feldmeier’s Vice President of Sales.
This is the third time OCC has utilized the Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training Program and the third time it’s been a success. “The fact people can start earning money the day they are in school, then get an apprentice level paycheck within 12 weeks time is definitely a big factor. Having the employer be part of the training ensures the students coming out have the skills they need. It guarantees success,” said Mike Metzgar, OCC’s Associate Vice President of Economic & Workforce Development.
Of the 12 students beginning their apprenticeships 10 are welders and two are focused on metal finishing. White is a welder and she’s thrilled with how the entire process went. “It feels great! This has exceeded my expectations. What we learned here didn’t just help us just get a job. It also gave us skills we are going to need for our entire life. I’m really glad. I love the environment here. It’s like a big family.”
The success White and her classmates experienced was the subject of a story by WSYR TV Newschannel 9 and reporter Jeff Kulikowsky and photographer Mark Folsom. You can view the story here.
The Apprenticeship Accelerator Career Training program is the product of a unique collaboration coordinated by OCC’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development. Training is provided by OCC with additional apprenticeship, project and employer support provided by the American Apprenticeship Initiative, the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, the New York State Department of Labor and the Onondaga County Office of Economic Development.