BY ROBERT LANE
Apprenticeship programs help businesses develop highly-skilled employees, which reduces turnover rates, increases productivity and lowers the cost of recruitment. In response to increased demand for high-quality manufacturing employees, and in cooperation with Indian River State College, Piper Aircraft Inc. in Vero Beach has launched an accredited apprenticeship program.
“In partnership, IRSC and Piper are able to train and develop stronger leaders for the Piper workforce,” said Dr. Edwin Massey, IRSC President. “Piper provides apprenticeship program participants with hands-on skills, involvement in Piper’s culture, and firsthand experience in Piper’s manufacturing process. IRSC can distinguish and further advance apprentice talent as they earn industry credentials and move towards a degree.”
The first class of the two-year apprenticeship program began in August 2019 with an initial cohort of nine participants and will grow to 20 active apprentices by year two. Participants engage in on-the-job training delivered by Piper subject matter experts, and IRSC delivers classroom instruction. Specific coursework begins with participants engaging in certified production technician training provided by the Corporate & Community Training Institute at IRSC. The CPT training offers the participants the opportunity to earn a nationally recognized certification in the advanced manufacturing industry. This particular CCTI advanced manufacturing training program also includes a 10-hour OSHA certification.
CareerSource Research Coast partners in support of the Piper apprenticeship program by funding specific classroom related training costs. “CareerSource Research Coast is committed to supporting quality work-based learning programs that lead to career pathways. Piper’s apprenticeship offers structured high-value training with transferable skills that will open doors to a better future,” said Marcelo Dossantos, vice president of strategic initiatives for CareerSource Research Coast.
Each apprentice is a paid employee of Piper Aircraft, receiving a full benefits package. At the program’s conclusion, each successful apprentice qualifies as a journeyman in aircraft assembly.
“Piper’s continued growth in aircraft sales and order backlog has resulted in demand for well-trained, high potential employees,” stated Simon Caldecott, president and CEO of Piper. “This program will provide the necessary training, mentoring and support enabling apprentices to successfully pursue a long-term career with growth opportunity as a Piper employee. An apprentice program will help ensure that Piper has a strong and agile workforce for the years to come.”
A premier institution for higher education, IRSC is a key partner in the continuing development of the Treasure Coast region. The new Piper Aircraft apprenticeship program exemplifies the commitment that IRSC has to regional workforce development. The college routinely collaborates with economic development stakeholders and leaders like Piper Aircraft to implement bold initiatives that grow a highly-skilled workforce and further quality of life and economic development on the Treasure Coast. Additionally, IRSC endeavors to take trades and manufacturing in the region to the next level with the planned Treasure Coast Advanced Manufacturing Center and continues to address the “skills gap” with new opportunities in aviation and marine training.
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