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Caterpillar’s Building Construction Products Division (BCP) Sanford facility recently celebrated the graduation of the first class, as well as the induction of the third class, of the Caterpillar Youth Apprenticeship Program in Welding. The program formed as a partnership between Caterpillar, Central Carolina Community College (CCCC), Lee County Schools and the North Carolina Department of Labor to train and equip students with the valuable skill of welding. In just a short amount of time, the program has grown to become a true model of a successful apprentice program.
“The investment in our talent pipeline not only benefits Caterpillar, but it also benefits the local community through increased opportunities for our youth. The program shows students how exciting and rewarding careers in manufacturing can be,” said Mary Bell, Caterpillar vice president with responsibility for the Building Constructions Products Division.
Two years ago, a group of sophomores heard about a new program for high school students to learn and develop welding skills. The students were somewhat skeptical as this was one of the first programs of its kind in North Carolina, but they still eagerly went through the application process in order to become the first Caterpillar Youth Apprentices.
The program gained immediate attention, as did the students in the program. Welding was becoming a highly desired skill among many companies and this type of program was one of the first in the state to specifically focus on youth. At the start of the program, students learned welding techniques and tools in the classroom and applied these skills in monitored training areas.
In June 2013, the first group of students stepped onto the Caterpillar grounds to work on-site with a mentor while perfecting their welding techniques. Flash forward one year later, and the students have the skills needed to become full-time employees with Caterpillar.
Caterpillar Youth Apprenticeship Program graduates earned a Welding Certificate from CCCC as well as a certificate from the state’s Department of Labor. In addition to these certificates, the skills they have learned while in the program will prepare them for a future full of opportunity and to serve as an inspiration for others.