Students Earn While They Learn

By: Jordan Shefte Email
By: Jordan Shefte Email

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

It is becoming more and more important to continue education past high school.

In a competitive job market, a furthering your education can set you apart from other applicants.

For some people, pouring thousands of dollars into a college education just isn't an option. But there is a way that students can go back to school, without breaking the bank.

It's called an apprenticeship, and instead of spending all day in a classroom, students are placed within the workforce to get some hands on training.

It's a way for them to earn, while they learn.

"I was always eager to learn new things, and this is a challenge for me," Jeff Bordeaux said.

Bordeaux just began the apprenticeship program at the Wichita Electrical Training Center.

While he's learning in a classroom today, it won't stay that way for long.

"Our particular model is an on the job training, it's earn while you learn so the students go to school a couple days a month and the rest of the month they're out working for the contractor earning wages and benefits," said Wichita Electrical Training Center Director Tony Naylor.

Those wages aren't half bad, either.

A low end apprentice typically makes $14 per hour.

While a high end apprentice can earn in the $24 range.

Benefits are also included, like health insurance, a pension plan, even paid vacation.

"It works really well, I mean you can actually afford to live while you learn," Bordeaux said.

The cost of the training is usually sponsored by employers, leaving only books and a tool kit for the students to cover.

The books usually add up to $2,000 over the four year program, and the tool kit is costs around five-hundred-dollars.

"They're getting excellent training at minimal cost to the student," Naylor said.

The students are each paired with a contractor, where they are able to earn on the job training.

Jeff is going to be working at Southwestern Electric.

"That's the fastest way I can learn, you know reading out of a textbook or something I don't really comprehend it as well as you know hands on," Bordeaux said.

"Classroom instruction is a valuable piece but to really get the experience that they need to be a well rounded journeyman electrician, the OJT piece is hard to beat," Naylor said.

Upon graduation, students, on average, earn 56 college credits, towards an Associates degree.

They would need to take two to three more classes at a community college to finish that degree.

The ultimate goal is that at the end of the apprenticeship, the students will be hired by the contractor they worked with.

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