Polk County Public Schools’ partnership with a local trade group is preparing residents for better-paying jobs as electricians.
Thirty-three students are enrolled in an electrical apprenticeship program at Traviss Technical College in Lakeland. The program takes four years to complete, and its first cohort of graduates (about 10 students) is expected in the spring.
“They’re ready for a bright future,” said Traviss’ director, David Wiggs. “They’ve undergone hands-on training and instruction from teachers who are experienced electricians. As graduates of the program, they will be recognized nationwide as certified journeymen, which means they’re eligible for higher-paying jobs within supervisory positions.”
The program is made possible by a partnership with the Florida West Coast chapter of the Independent Electrical Contractors. The students at Traviss are employees from companies that are members of the chapter; the businesses recommend their workers for the apprenticeship program, and the students continue working while taking classes at night.
There continues to be strong demand for electricians, with employment expected to grow 10 percent from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
During a recent meeting, Polk County School Board members voted unanimously to renew the district’s contract with the trade group and keep the program going.
Board member Kay Fields described the apprenticeship program as a valuable opportunity for students to enrich their careers and lives. Fields said she also believes local businesses “would be very pleased with this opportunity for getting qualified candidates for their jobs, so this is exciting.”
Currently, the electrical apprenticeship program is only available at Traviss. The school also has a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) apprenticeship program, which is in its second year of operation.
Ridge Technical College is currently developing an HVAC apprenticeship program at its campus in Winter Haven.