West Plains High School senior Chevy Rodman, West Plains, is the first South Central Career Center (SCCC) student to participate in a registered apprenticeship program in partnership with the U.S. Department of Labor.
The occasion was marked with a signing ceremony recently at the career center, attended by Rodman’s parents and his employer, instructor, a U.S. Department of Labor representative and SCCC administrators.
Rodman is a student in the auto collision program, instructed by Brian Hoyle, and employed by Gobel’s Collision in West Plains. Gobel’s Collision Repair is the first employer to sign on with SCCC, thus making the apprenticeship program possible.
Josh Cotter, assistant director at SCCC, noted trade apprenticeship is a tradition going back hundreds of years. It is being revisited today, taking into consideration labor trends and the reality that college attendance may not be appropriate or ideal for certain career paths.
While Rodman is earning a paycheck and learning a trade, upon completion of the program he will also receive a Department of Labor credential and get a head start from his employer on building a resume.
“It shows a level of experience and skills gained that makes the apprentice more employable,” Cotter added.
Participation in the program is also a boon for the West Plains R-7 school district. The district is awarded accreditation points by the Missouri School Improvement Program, the state entity tasked with evaluating the quality of education of each of Missouri’s public and charter school districts.
Cotter said the apprenticeship program could be open to students from all 13 sending schools, including Theodosia, Thayer, Houston, Willow Springs, Winona, Alton, Dora and Gainesville.
Trace Laughery, a U.S. Department of Labor apprenticeship and training consultant who represents the Ozark region, was present at the signing and observed that Missouri is second in the nation behind California for apprenticeship programs.