Offering pre-apprentice dual credit courses can benefit schools and employers alike. For schools introducing career and technical education (CTE) programs, they can gain industry input and guidance from career professionals. For participating employers, they have the opportunity to help guide the next generation of skilled workers.
At Navarro High School, a pre-apprentice dual credit course is available for students who want to become the future electricians of Austin. The course, now in its second year, is part of a partnership between electrical contractor TRIO Electric, Austin Independent School District and Austin Community College, and is free to participating students.
A second program debuted this year at Premier High School – Austin North, a ResponsiveEd public charter school. Premier assembled an on-site fabrication lab on campus for students to earn high school credits while training for two years alongside TRIO’s employees. The program is intended to help dedicated students come away with the experience needed to begin a career as an electrician right after graduation.
Both programs teach students how to be safe, productive and skilled electricians as well as other employable and soft skills. Participating students attended commitment ceremonies at both schools on October 28, 2019.
Students are bused to TRIO Electric and learn about the work electricians perform, including how to read electrical blueprints and bend conduits. The programs offer learning outside of the classroom as well. Students visit construction job sites to observe the work being completed and are offered paid full-time internships in the summer.
Beau Pollock, President and CEO of TRIO Electric, said, “There is a major demand for skilled labor here. With this program, we can give you a skill to help you get a job to fulfill that demand. When you become part of that supply chain, you will have a great foundation from which to grow from.”
“You are making the choice to join this program and commit to TRIO, ACC, AISD and most importantly to yourself. The definition of commitment is a state of being dedicated to an activity. That activity is learning the electrical trade,” said Beau.
“If you finish the program and are employable, then you will earn a job. That job will lead to a new car, like some of our recent graduates who now can afford transportation. It leads to a savings account, and then a foundation for you to explore options. We will give you the jobs. What you do with those jobs is up to you,” said Beau.
Indego Clemons, an 18-year-old senior at Premier, joined the program because he sees it as a pathway toward owning his own business.
“My dad owns several businesses, and that inspires me to have my own. I want to invest in my businesses to make more money,” Indego said.
“It’s been really fun, especially when we do hands-on training. Bending metal bars and learning about wiring and connections is the most fun for me,” said Indego.
Chris Thomas is a master electrician who has worked for Austin Independent School District for seven years, maintaining electrical systems at schools across the district. Today, he is the Electrician Trade Instructor at Navarro. For Chris, offering courses like this one are valuable because they help put students on positive directions in life.
“A course like this gives students an early start in learning a trade, and when they graduate they can get a decent paying job to use for the rest of their life if they don’t or can’t go to full-time college,” said Thomas.
Victor Reyes is a senior at Navarro and a graduate of the first cohort. His advice to the new participants: “The most important thing is to have fun. It’s an amazing and fun class, so enjoy it. You have an electrifying opportunity, so take advantage of it and enjoy yourselves.”