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ICYMI: "This program is so important to us because we are growing our workforce"

November 02, 2020

Four high school seniors signed up last week for the next step of their educational and workforce careers through Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College's Youth Apprenticeship program.

The program, started last year, provides high school students taking courses at OCtech with the opportunity to work with area employers.

Calhoun County High School senior Erika Carter is one of the students ready to embark on this next leg of her life's journey. She is currently taking mechatronics at OCtech and will be working at Orangeburg's Husqvarna plant.

“This is a great experience to get some workforce learning, because I don't have that yet. I am hoping it can do a lot for me,” Carter said.

She would like to go to college for electrical engineering, but is still open to studying mechatronics.

With family support, each student signed up for the apprenticeship program during a Thursday ceremony. Each student was dressed in a shirt and hat with their new employer’s logo.

In addition to Husqvarna, Nephron Pharmaceuticals of Lexington is also participating in the program this year.

As part of the program, the students will be allowed to work and function as if they are employees. …

OCtech President Dr. Walt Tobin called the signing ceremony the beginning of a “successful journey and a lucrative career.”

"This is an incredible feat for our students," he said.

Tobin thanked the parents and family members for supporting their children. He also thanked the college's employees and Apprenticeship Carolina for making the signing day possible. Apprenticeship Carolina is a program of the South Carolina Technical College system.

The signing day ceremony “is an opportunity to recognize students who are not necessarily athletes but are doing amazing work," Tobin said. "Signing day is typically a way to recognize achievements for sports and this is recognition for academic achievement. These students are on the path to successful careers as high school students."

Tobin said the apprenticeship program fits in well with the college's mission.

"We are in the business of putting our students and our graduates to work," Tobin said. …

Calhoun County High School student Konner Whitfield is taking welding at OCtech and working at Nephron Pharmaceuticals.

"I am excited about getting my foot in the door with a company and doing the type of welding I enjoy doing," Whitfield said. "I enjoy what the company does. I enjoy that type of welding."

Whitfield says he hopes the program will allow him to improve his skills in different types of welding and fabrication. …

Nephron Director of Training and Development Brooks Backman said the program is a “win-win” for both the employer and students.

"This program is so important to us because we are growing our workforce," she said. "We need welders and to be able to do it for the youth population is even better because they have already found their passion."

Click here to read the entire story from the Orangeburg Times and Democrat.