CENTREVILLE — Jeffrey Smith, Targeted Population Grant Program manager for the Maryland Office of Workforce Development, informed county commissioners Tuesday, June 11, of a record number of participants in the youth apprenticeship program.
According to Smith, the 2018-19 school year boasted 42 participants as opposed to 27 the previous school term and 11 in the 2016-17 school year statewide. The number of participating businesses has also increased with 106 unduplicated employers taking part with six in Queen Anne’s County. That is a sharp spike as only 44 took part during the 2018-17 school year and a mere 14 in the 2017-16 school term statewide. An additional 21 employers are awaiting approval to join the program for the upcoming school year.
“We’re very excited to be partnering with Queen Anne’s County Public Schools to be one of our school systems,” said Smith. “The businesses, aside from taking on an apprentice, pay them no less than minimum wage. While student are in those placements, they are learning valuable skills and learning the essential work process.”
Queen Anne’s County Public Schools were one of eight other school districts that participated in the recent school year while only two took part in both the 2018-17 and the 2017-16 school years.
Originally in 2015, House Bill 942 established an apprenticeship pilot program, Apprenticeship Maryland, to prepare students to enter the workforce by providing on-site employment training and related classroom instruction needed to obtain a license or certification for a skilled occupation. The program began in the summer of 2016.
“This apprenticeship program was adopted in the county in Nov. 2018 and the Economic Development Commission, the county Chamber of Commerce, and this department are working very closely with this program to recruit businesses to sign up and participate,” said Jean Fabi, Business and Economic Development liaison for the Queen Anne’s County Department of Economic Development.
Also taking part is the Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation on conjunction with Maryland State Department of Education and Maryland State Department of Commerce.
Following what was seen as a successful run as a test program, Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford announced the continuation and expansion of the program in Jan. 2018. Each school district’s superintendent selects their students with apprenticeships starting in the summer or fall of their junior or senior year.
A minimum of 450 hours of supervised work must be completed and the student must receive one year classroom instruction in that field. While the student must complete those hours prior to graduation, credit from the apprentice must towards a high school diploma or post-secondary credit.
Among the industries represented in the program are machine operations, data entry, biomedical, financial services, communications, culinary, appraisal services, and water utilities just name a few.
Smith noted the program is aimed at working students looking to enter high-demand professions in conjunctions with stable industry leaders.
More information on the youth apprenticeship program is available by contacting the Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Program at 410-767-2246.