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Local high school students hold signing day for apprenticeships

Roughly three dozen students from six different school districts signed for apprenticeships ranging from welding to software engineering
Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 10:46 PM CDT
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BETTENDORF, Iowa (KWQC) - Students from Davenport, PV, North Scott, UT, Moline, and Rock Island gathered at the QC Waterfront Convention Center Monday to sign on for apprenticeships. Among the students included PV Senior Nick Hammes, who signed on to do a welding apprenticeship at Eckhart.

“The biggest thing is that I get to work and do what I love, I found this and I sort of grabbed onto it and realized this is what I want to do with my life,” Hammes said.

While the program only has a few dozen students, companies and schools are seeing the program as an alternative yet equal career path for students after high school.

“Schools are pushing it seems for ‘you need to go to college in order to be successful’ and here all of us are being successful right out of high school,” Hammes said.

“It’s a huge opportunity for families in the Quad Cities specifically for this program to put students in a great financial position for their future where they’re getting paid to learn versus taking on debt to learn I think it’s a big deal,” Eckhart GM Travis Turner said.

“$1.3 Trillion of student loan debt, here’s an opportunity to get paid to learn instead of paying to learn and it’s a great opportunity,” Turner said.

Even school counselors and administrators are working on their own to rethink the definition of postgraduate success for high school students.

“There was definitely a time not in our so recent history where it was college for all, college or you’re not going to be successful or if you don’t go to college, there’s a stigma attached to it and that’s really not just our world any longer,” Davenport Schools Career and Technical Education Specialist Jennifer Boyd said.

“Students after they finish their apprenticeship, they’re going to have a nationally recognized certificate that is going to allow them to jump to the top of application files,” Boyd said.

Boyd also said companies will help pay for tuition if or when apprentices decide to go to some form of college.

“A lot of these companies will help pay for your tuition, so these students go into the workforce, immediately start earning a paycheck, and then if they choose to go to school, they’re probably going to get assistance,” Boyd said.

She also suggests students at any QCA high school reach out to their administration to learn more about apprenticeships.

“Talk to your counselors, if any of these students walked into their office, talked to an administrator or counselor, you saw almost every Quad Cities school is represented here today and that’s the first place to start,” Boyd said.

“There’s all these opportunities out here and people just really don’t know about it,” Hammes said.

The apprenticeship signing is a part of a multi-day event put on by the QC Chamber of Commerce along with each school district, Eastern Iowa Community Colleges, Black Hawk College, and industry apprenticeship site-host partners.

On Tuesday, April 20, the Chamber along with Davenport schools, the Rock Island-Milan Community School District, and John Deere will have an open zoom meeting aimed at Millennials and Gen Z about the future of the workforce and opportunities for high school students. The zoom meeting will start at 7 P.M. at the link www.tinyurl.com/QCCalltoAction.

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