Caterpillar Expands Welding Youth Apprenticeship Program in North Carolina

The second cohort of welding apprentices recently began program at Building Construction Products Sanford facility.

The Sanford facility of the Building Construction Products (BCP) Division recently celebrated the induction of 16 new apprentices into the Caterpillar Welding Youth Apprenticeship Program, the largest apprenticeship program in North Carolina.

The program is designed to prepare students for employment at the Caterpillar facility in Sanford. It also exposes students to Caterpillar's emphasis on employee development to help them build a fulfilling career.

"I have been around welding my whole life and I'm excited to go through this program to learn all that I can," said Christopher Baker, one of the new inductees eagerly anticipating the experience.

The students are the second cohort to participate in the program and will begin learning in August at Central Carolina Community College (CCCC). As apprentices, the students will study related coursework in the classroom, followed by hands-on training at CCCC throughout the school year. The summer following, the apprentices will work part-time onsite in the BCP Sanford facility. The first cohort will begin their time onsite this summer, as they have already completed their first year in the classroom.

"Expanding operations will allow students plenty of hands-on experience during their time onsite," explained Martin Kegel, fabrications factory manager. "We are extremely excited to have them here. This is a great opportunity for them to receive real world training that they wouldn't receive anywhere else."

The induction ceremony for the second cohort of apprentices took place in the fabrications building where the students will eventually spend their summer of 2015 learning, training and welding with current employees. The ceremony included a formal introduction of the new apprentices with remarks from Brad Crace, Sanford facility operations manager, Donnie Oldham, chair of the Lee County Economic Development Committee, Bud Marchant, president of CCCC and Dr. Andy Bryan, CCCC associate superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. Shortly after the ceremony, students and their families were treated to a tour of the expanding fabrications area.

"This program is a win-win for Caterpillar and the community. It helps to prepare young people for a successful career in the trades," said Annette Atkins, Sanford training consultant, who has worked diligently to develop the curriculum for both cohorts of apprentices.

Upon completion of the program, successful graduates will have earned a Welding Certificate from CCCC, as well as a certificate from the NC Department of Labor indicating completion of the youth apprenticeship portion of the program. Students will also have completed the 80-hour Caterpillar Accelerated Training program, credited hours towards the adult apprenticeship and will have gained real-world experience working part-time at Caterpillar for two years.

With the current success of the apprenticeship program, combined with the growth of fabrications at BCP Sanford, these students are already on their road to success.