UNC Educators Learn About ACC-Business Partnerships, Apprentices
(October 25, 2002) – At-risk youth and young adults were the focus recently as Alamance Community College, NCWorks, and Alamance-Burlington Schools facilitated a discussion with about 50 UNC Chapel Hill faculty and administrators who are crossing the state as part of the Across Carolina 100 tour.
The UNC personnel — representing departments such as chemistry, public health, criminal justice, and psychology — are visiting an eclectic array of industry, agencies, and other colleges to learn how they can better inform the work they do with students in UNC classrooms, offices and labs. On October 19, the bus tour stopped in Burlington to tour Fairystone Fabrics.
Fairystone, Alamance Community College, NCWorks, and other county agencies comprise a core team that is partnered with the Across Carolina 100 initiative. Their joint commitment is focused on providing education and work opportunities to youth ages 16-24 who are not engaged in either school or work. As members of this task force, the organizations are working together to ensure these young adults are identified and enrolled in programs to help them receive training and skilled employment opportunities.
One such opportunity are apprenticeships, of which Fairystone Fabrics president Jim Bryan is an industry sponsor. Working with ACC and other groups, high school students and adults can matriculate through ACC while simultaneously working and earning as apprentices in the local community. At the end of their commitment, apprentices have earned a NC Labor Department-recognized credential and usually full-time employment with the industry at which they were apprentices.
During the Fairystone tour, the UNC educators heard from two ACC-educated apprentices who work at the manufacturer. ACC alumni Justin Padmos and Cristian Salas apprenticed at Fairystone but have now graduated and both work full-time at the company.
In response to a question posed by a UNC educator about best practices to market these programs to high school students, Bettina Akukwe, ACC’s Apprenticeship Coordinator, said that it’s important to bring along peer apprentices like Christian and Justin on high school presentations. High school students will often listen more attentively to successful student apprentices rather than adult administrators.
“About half our students [at ACC] plan to transfer to schools like UNC, but another 50 percent want to get into the workforce,” said Justin Snyder, ACC’s Dean of Applied Engineering, Agriculture and Skilled Trades. “It’s our job to introduce them to a skilled trade pathway and keep them focused on earning their credential. That’s why we bring those students to tour places like Fairystone Fabrics. It’s important to keep them engaged and help them stay in school.”
Fairystone president Jim Bryan emphasized to the UNC group that today’s manufacturing jobs need skills in computers as well as machinery. He said ipads, iphones, and tablets are used to access the control systems of machinery and that is why ACC’s soft skills instruction is also crucial.
The Alamance County core team under the Carolina Across 100 umbrella is comprised of Tammy Wall, NC Works/Regional Partnership Workforce Development Board; Robin Bowers, Alamance Burlington Schools/Career & Technical Education; Justin Snyder, Alamance Community College, Dean of Industrial Technologies; Kevin Szostak, Alamance County Chamber, Director of Economic Development Projects/County Gov’t; and Jim Bryan, President of Fairystone Fabric and Apprenticeship Employer.