Employer Funding Available for McDowell Apprenticeship Program

Funding for the program was established in November, 2021 by the NC General Assembly to assist small businesses in developing a talent pipeline in high-demand careers in rural areas throughout North Carolina. Businesses and industries participating in the program must be in a Tier 1 or 2 county, a designation by the NC Department of Commerce related to economic development needs. McDowell County has been designated a Tier 2 county for 2022. Industries with corporate employment in excess of 500 employees may also be eligible, if local employment is less than this maximum.

“We are excited to be able to assist local employers in setting up these apprenticeships to build capacity in these high-demand careers,” said Stacy Buff, Associate Vice-President of Workforce Development. “It is a symbiotic relationship, with employers gaining potential new employees and our students gaining valuable training and hands-on learning. That is why we have been laser-focused on building our McDowell Apprenticeship Program.”

Thomas Champ, the college’s Coordinator of Work-Based Learning, is available to talk with employers about setting up a new program or increasing capacity in an existing apprenticeship. “Because funding must be committed by December, 2024, there is a sense of urgency for employers to act now to make sure they maximize their financial benefits under the General Assembly’s funding requirements,” said Buff.

Originally, “high-demand careers” were primarily identified as those involving surveying, engineering, design, and all construction trades, as well as welding, pipe fitting, and engine mechanics, but with the announcement of expanded funding, the following career paths are now included in the designation “high-demand careers:”

  • Computer and Mathematical (Including IT)
  • Architecture and Engineering
  • Education
  • Healthcare Technicians
  • Healthcare Support
  • Protective Service
  • Food Preparation and Service
  • Office and Administrative Support
  • Construction and Extraction
  • Installation, Maintenance, and Repairs
  • Production
  • Transportation

Students enrolling in apprenticeship programs at the college “win, win, win,” said Buff. First, they receive exceptional hands-on learning with an employer to see if the profession and employer are a good long-term career fit for them. Second, they are eligible for the college’s “tuition-free through 2023” pledge, and the apprenticeship program can cover their fees and book expenses, as well as uniform costs. Third, they get paid for their work experience, in addition to earning college credit that can be applied to a degree program, licensure and/or certifications.

“Our college is committed to workforce development,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President. “Thanks to generous funding from the NC General Assembly, we are able to continue expansion of the McDowell Apprenticeship Program for MTCC students in high-growth, high-demand careers, which builds a talent pipeline for our local employers in these professions. We encourage interested employers to contact Mr. Champ today to discuss how the McDowell Apprenticeship Program can help them take advantage of expanded funding opportunities and match students to their hard-to-fill positions.”

To reach Thomas Champ, visit map.mcdowelltech.edu, call 828-659-0454 or email him at [email protected] .