b'ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTOnce the apprenticeship program is established, the companysmodel to get more people on the job and earn a living while existing employees or new hires are enrolled in the appropriatecontinuing their education in the classroom.academic program, then registered through the DOL. Companies are seeing the positive impact of the Serving an 11-county region (Atkinson, Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks,apprenticeship programs in recruiting, training and retaining Coffee, Cook, Echols, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, and Wilcox),highly skilled workers. Wiregrass Tech has apprenticeship agreements with 16 companies including ADB Hoist Rings, TransPower, Cass BurchPlugging into ApprenticeshipsDealership, Steeda, Coyote Manufacturing, Verlyn, PremiumWith offices in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina, Ace Waters, Ace Technologies, and Ace Electric. Electric provides registered apprenticeship programs that utilize curriculum developed by the Independent Electric Apprenticeship programs offer Wiregrass Tech and otherContractors (IEC) Association.technical colleges, with an opportunity to strengthen partnerships with local employers and provide workforceNichole Shanks, workforce development manager for Ace solutions. Electric, says electrical companies across the U.S. are facing significant problems in hiring electricians at the journeyman This is a new avenue for Wiregrass to connect companieslevel. with skilled employees, says Tillman. Traditionally, we would train a student, then they graduate and go to work. We areThe national average age of journeymen working today is now answering the call earlier and can use the apprenticeship45-years-old, says Shanks. At Ace Electric, that average is a little higher, so we have to build a generation of journeymen to fill the void that will be created over the next 10 to 15 Corporate Training: years.Nichole Shanks, workforce development manager for Ace ElectricACE ELECTRICCustomized Training: Drew Vickers, technical and industry area director, left, Michael Williams, dean of Academic Affairs, and Bill Tillman, apprenticeship coordinator in a custom-designed classroom for Wiregrass Techs Commercial Electrical Construction Technology program38 SG MAGAZINE| FALL 2019 BUSINESS + CULTURE39'