Apprentice Signing Day in Charleston

Move Over Draft Day, Introducing Apprenticeship Signing Day

Aug. 10, 2018
KION North America participates in the program as a way to "close the gap that exists between the jobs of the future and the available workforce in our area.”

In July Marcus Gore took the “stage” to sign his employment letter with KION North America, which has its headquarters in Summerville, S.C.

He was part of the Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeship Signing Day that took place at Trident Technical College. Students signed employment letters to become apprentices with Charleston-area employers.

This is KION North America’s second year hosting youth apprentices. The company says the program “is one measure towards closing the gap that exists between the jobs of the future and the available workforce in our area.”

Since that day, Gore, a recent graduate of West Ashley High School, has completed his first month as an apprentice with the forklift manufacturer. Durig the program his curriculum will include: industrial safety; hands-on assembly; reading assembly work instructions; participating in quality audits; lean manufacturing techniques such as one-piece flow, 5S and Kaizen; problem-solving techniques; how to work with torque tooling and air-powered equipment; and performing product tests and final inspections. He will complete a minimum of 2,000 hours during his apprenticeship. 

This program is part of the area's effort to create a skilled workforce. High school students travel to Trident Technical College two to three days per week where they are enrolled in dual credit classes in a specific area. They also apprentice at an area company for about 10 hours per week. During the summer between the junior and senior year, the students work full-time as paid apprentices.

At the end of the two-year program, students will have earned a high school diploma, certification in a specific field from Trident Tech, credentialing from the U.S. Department of Labor, and two years of paid work experience.

And the students finish the program with zero college debt thanks to the  Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce's program called the Accelerate Greater Charleston Fund.

The 2017/2018 class was comprised of 75 apprentices with 48 employees participating. Programs include industrial mechanics, machining, HVAC tech, computer programming, computer networking and cybersecurity. For the upcoming school year, the goal is to have 200 apprentices with 99 employers adding in automotive tech and CAD tech. 

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

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