During the May 24 school board workshop, Sophia Watson, Hernando Schools Director of Adult & Technical Education and Steve Cona, CEO of ABC incorporated Gulf Coast, presented a plan to start an “earn while you learn” apprenticeship program for adult learners.
Apprenticeship programs would allow students to receive training and start working at the same time. It would give students the ability to have hands-on experience, while also doing their school work at night or virtually.
The program will be offered through Suncoast Technical Education Center in partnership with the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Apprentice program. The ABC Apprentice program has been accredited by the State of Florida to provide quality construction training courses. They also represent 18% of all the state’s enrolled apprentices.
This year The Associated Builders and Contractors graduated 92 apprentices in 8 different construction trades and they are looking to expand into the Pasco\Hernando County area. The Associated Builders and Contractors have several different trade programs which include electrical, plumbing, roofing, HVAC, carpentry, pipe fitting, sheet metal, fire sprinkler, and craft laborer. The craft laborer trade is more broad than some of the other trades, teaching more of the basics. It is only a two year program and also encompasses Osha safety training as well as other aspects.
This apprenticeship program also received a grant awarded by the governor for about $1.2 million to start, allowing the funding for the apprenticeship program to be fast tracked. This grant totaled $10 million and was divided among 10 different school districts and state colleges.
Later during the school board’s regular meeting the apprenticeship program was pulled by Jimmy Lodato because he said, “This is a very exciting program. I want the whole public to hear it because this is something we have never done before.” The school board approved the program unanimously.