Apprenticeship Program allows skilled laborers to ‘earn while you learn’

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The North Alabama Craft Training Foundation’s Apprenticeship Program is a four-year effort registered with the U.S. Department of Labor. It uses the National Center for Construction and Educational Research curriculum.

“I take my online classes through Calhoun so I can work full time then I still have time for the apprenticeship program,” Quentin Cool said.

Cool is a 2015 East Limestone graduate who’s taking college classes while working as an apprentice for Fite Building Company.

“You can get on the job experience, it’s practical experience,” Cool said.

Cool is a part of the North Alabama Craft Training Foundation’s Apprenticeship Program.

“The way it works best is to find one of the employers, see if they’re hiring, let them hire you and enroll you in the program so they pay for it,” Wade Thompson, an administrator with the North Alabama Craft Training Foundation, said.

Apprentices work for four years to complete 8,000 on-the-job-training hours along with 144 hours of theory learning.

“It’s an opportunity once they go through the apprenticeship program to upgrade or move up the career ladder,” Thompson said. “They can go from apprentice to foreman to superintendent to project and some even own their own businesses now.”

Brian Collier is enrolled in an electrical program, and he’s a skilled electrician.

“I’ve been doing it 25 years,” Collier said. “I’ve made a very comfortable living, raised a family, two children, put them through college.”

The 36-week apprenticeship program mandates a 4-hour class, one night per week, beginning in August and finishing in May. It’s education without the debt. Thompson said it’s a chance to earn while you learn in a field full of opportunity.

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