Partnership introduces cadets to manufacturing

July 6, 2017

Young people are getting a head start on manufacturing careers thanks to a partnership between the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) and the Mountaineer Challenge Academy.

The first group of Challenge Academy cadets graduated last month from an RCBI pre-apprenticeship program through Apprenticeship Works, the National Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Partnership. The pre-apprenticeship introduces disadvantaged youth to good-paying, high-skill jobs available in manufacturing.

RCBI Director Charlotte Weber believes the partnership with the Challenge Academyis an important way to prepare young people for success in today’s rapidly changing and globalized world. “Skills training can enhance young people’s well-being and help them develop into active and productive members of their communities,” Weber said.“Programs such as ours can create a pipeline of future workers, which boosts the competitiveness of our state’s manufacturers.”

As part of career exploration activities, cadets completed online courses in advanced manufacturing that include Blueprint Reading, Introduction to Robotics, Introduction to Assembly and Pneumatic Components, among others.

“We’re pleased to offer this rewarding opportunity to the cadets at the Challenge Academy,” said Lucinda Curry, director of Apprenticeship Works. “We hope they continue on this path to success by securing employment and/or continuing to seek out opportunities through Registered Apprenticeships at manufacturers here in West Virginia.”

RCBI’s Apprenticeship Works was established in 2015 to create apprenticeships nationwide in 17 advanced manufacturing occupations. Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, the apprenticeship initiative assists manufacturers using RCBI’s collaborative model to educate their workers and bridge the skills gap in American manufacturing.

The Mountaineer Challenge Academy, located in Kingwood, Preston County, is a 22-week program that helps teenagers become productive members of the community. Supported by the West Virginia National Guard and the state of West Virginia, the academy focuses on academics, job skills, community involvement, citizenship, health and hygiene, physical activity, life-coping skills and leadership.