Gestamp program in Hamilton County Schools is the first to earn U.S. Department of Labor apprenticeship designation
Posted on 10/08/2018
Javontae Jones, a senior at East Hamilton, works on the floor of GestampThe Gestamp work-based learning program through Hamilton County Schools is the first program in Tennessee to earn the U.S. Department of Labor’s registered apprenticeship designation. Gestamp is now a registered apprenticeship in advanced manufacturing. The Gestamp program allows high school students to get a full-day work-based learning experience while also completing their education. Students take online academic classes in a computer lab at Gestamp and get actual work experience during the school day in the Gestamp plant.

“Gestamp has been amazing to partner with on this journey to provide students with practical work experience in a high demand field,” said Heidi King, Gestamp work-based learning coordinator for Hamilton County Schools. “The registered apprenticeship takes the value of the program for our students to the next level by allowing graduates to add a recognized industry credential to their resume.”

Registered apprenticeship training is different from other types of work-study programs because participants earn pay during training, the programs must meet national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor, and the training results in the student earning an industry-recognized credential. Students also get on-the-job learning with job-related technical instruction and experience at the work site.

King works primarily in the online learning lab to help students stay on track with their academic classes in the program. “I monitor their progress and give them academic support,” King said. “This program gives students hope for a career path after high school performing maintenance on robots, working on the line, or even going into engineering.”

In the Gestamp program, students participate for two years during high school, and the teens begin the program earning $9 per hour. Upon completion of the apprenticeship requirements, the students will earn $12 per hour. Participants learn machine setup and operation, how to recognize and solve malfunctioning machines, inspect and perform quality checks, clean and perform audits, and cross-train. Of course, the students are well-schooled in OHSA safety and health rules and guidelines.

“I love this program because it is different,” said Devin Jones, a junior from Central High School in the Gestamp program. “We have all of our classes online so we can work at our own pace in completing our work.” Jones plans to use the flexibility to graduate early in the spring. “I am looking forward to getting started on my career,” Jones added.

The Gestamp work-based learning apprenticeship program fits with the goals of Hamilton County Schools in the Future Ready 2023 five-year action plan. Preparing students for college and career is a goal in Future Ready 2023 just as creating pathways to help students be more successful after high school is a goal of the Gestamp program. Students completing the program and earning industry certification will help the district meet the key performance indicator of students earning industry certifications or taking advanced coursework listed in the action plan.

“I think we have a responsibility as a community and business leaders to make sure that kids are successful in life not only in education but also in a career,” said Mandy Bohannon, the work-based learning coordinator for Gestamp. “Successful students in the program have the opportunity to become full-time employees with benefits and take advantage of our tuition reimbursement if they decide to go to college.”

Photo Top: Javontae Jones, a senior at East Hamilton, works on the floor of Gestamp