Pre-apprenticeship prepares women for careers in manufacturing

Aug. 10, 2017

HUNTINGTON — Graduates of a pre-apprenticeship in advanced manufacturing are prepared to launch new careers in industry.

The Step Up for Women Advanced Manufacturing Pre-Apprenticeship Training Program is a partnership between West Virginia Women Work and Apprenticeship Works, the National Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Partnership at the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI).

The 10-week program at RCBI Huntington prepares women for manufacturing careers, teaching them the skills they need to succeed as machinists or in related industrial occupations. In addition to hands-on skills training and classroom studies, the women tour manufacturing facilities and shadow employees.

"RCBI is excited to partner on this fast start to prepare women for rewarding, manufacturing jobs right here in West Virginia," Weber says. "Like our career skills training programs, our partnership addresses recurring themes: the critical shortage of skilled workers and improving opportunities in industry for women."

Eleven women from West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio are set to complete the program. The group includes LeAnn Adkins, Branchland; Fran Barker, South Point, Ohio; Dawn Bell, Catlettsburg, Ky.; Laura Byrd, Huntington; Heather Eplin, Branchland; Natasha Francis, Milton; Linda Keefer, Barboursville; Nicole Madison, Huntington; Kacie Newsome, Gallipolis, Ohio; Samantha Robinson, Huntington; Melanie Spaun, Gallipolis; and Nickey Spry, Huntington.

The Step Up graduation is Friday, Aug. 18, at noon at RCBI Huntington, 1050 Fourth Ave. To demonstrate their new skills, the women completed real world, practical projects during the final week of classes. Two comprehensive projects will be selected to represent the best of the class, and will be announced and rewarded with trophies during the graduation ceremony. To attend the ceremony, RSVP to Director Melinda Perron at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

The Pre-Apprenticeship effort, which immerses women in manufacturing processes, is offered twice a year at RCBI Huntington. Women accepted into the pre-apprenticeship program receive free tuition and travel reimbursements as well as work clothes and boots. Applications are being accepted for a new class of women that begins in January 2018. For enrollment information, contact Perron at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 304.528.9991.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, Apprenticeship Works is creating apprenticeships across the United States in 17 manufacturing occupations. The partnership works directly with manufacturers to establish and manage customized programs using RCBI’s collaborative model to educate workers and bridge the skills gap in American manufacturing. In addition to the Step Up program for women, Apprenticeship Works also offers pre-apprenticeship programs for disadvantaged youth and veterans.