There are many paths a high school student can choose to take after graduation. Maryland is encouraging its students to consider the trades and enter an apprenticeship program. The state is investing more funds in apprenticeship programs by providing grants and expanding its registered apprenticeship programs. After receiving funds from the Maryland Department of Labor, IEC Chesapeake was awarded a $250,000 Apprenticeship Innovation Fund 2.0 Grant to be used over a two-year period and plans to implement a three-pronged approach to meet its goal of serving more than 100 apprentices by 2022.
The first step in Chesapeake’s strategy is to expand their School to Apprenticeship (STA) program, which trains students who are still in high school. High school seniors can participate in the apprenticeship program while finishing up their high school courses. The students attend IEC Chesapeake one day per week and during the other four days, work with a contractor in the morning to complete a minimum of 450 hours of on-the-job training. In the afternoons, the students return to high school to complete their core courses. Once they graduate, participants are eligible to start Year 2 of the IEC apprenticeship program. Currently, STA is available in two school districts in Maryland, but Chesapeake intends to expand the program to an additional 45 students over the two-year grant cycle, bringing the total to 60 students.
The second prong to IEC Chesapeake’s plan is to focus on telecommunications and low voltage apprentices. This is a growing field and as of now, Maryland only has 42 telecommunication apprentices. The goal is to add 20 apprentices per year during the two-year cycle for a total of 40 apprentices.
Lastly, IEC Chesapeake will offer reduced tuition rates to contractors who meet the criteria to incentivize them to enroll their apprentices in the program. There are a lot of contractors in the state that have never enrolled an apprentice, and for others, it has been years since they last enrolled an apprentice. IEC Chesapeake will inform contractors of the reduced tuition rates, as the grant will cover much of the tuition, and also inform them about additional tax incentives that Maryland offers when they employ 1st year apprentices.
“We are thrilled to have received a grant that will allow us to continue to bring awareness to IEC and its apprenticeship program, and to train skilled electricians,” said Grant Shmelzer, IEC Chesapeake’s executive director. “We are looking forward to expanding opportunities for apprenticeship into the solar and telecommunications industries, and to preparing the next generation of electricians for rewarding and lucrative careers.”
We know IEC Chesapeake will meet, if not exceed, the goals it has set forth on how to use the funds from the Apprenticeship Innovation 2.0 Grant while continuing to grow the IEC brand in Maryland.
For more information on IEC Chesapeake, visit their website at www.iecchesapeake.com.