In honor of the third annual National Apprenticeship Week, we are highlighting our member companies’ leading apprenticeship programs. Over the last five years, the number of apprentices nationwide has grown drastically, with more than 545,000 apprentices across the country – many of whom call North Carolina home. For our final feature of the week, we’re showcasing McCreary Modern’s apprenticeship program.
Founded in 1986, McCreary Modern is a furniture manufacturing company that employs more than 875 employees across six locations in Newton, Conover, Maiden and Lenoir. McCreary Modern always had an interest in pursuing apprenticeship programs, given the fact that the company’s management had cultivated their own skills while serving as apprentices in high school. In 2014, McCreary Modern began the process to form a program by working with Mark Story, Catawba County Schools’ career and technical education director. Together, they developed a program to train skilled upholstery sewers to fill the company’s talent pipeline, which has been hit by the growing skills gap. To ensure students were receiving the correct training while in school, McCreary Modern helped secure and install industrial sewing machines in the participating high schools and invested in the summer training and compensation of the vocational teacher at Bandys High School. Since the start of the program, McCreary Modern has had sewing apprentices from Bunker Hill and Bandys High School and this year, started another program in the company’s Maiden Frame Plant working with Maiden High School.
This program has been instrumental in cultivating talent, which is a testament to the alignment between McCreary Modern and Catawba County Schools. The strength of this partnership directly correlates to the success of the program – which is continually producing skilled workers ready to alleviate McCreary Modern’s workforce challenges. There’s no question that apprenticeship programs are invaluable to job creators across North Carolina struggling to overcome the skills gap, as well as the apprentices they train. Not only do students receive an education, on-the-job training and pay, but employers now have a steady stream of talent ready to fill jobs that may have been left vacant otherwise.
It has been a pleasure to highlight this program and others in honor of National Apprenticeship Week. If we are to close the skills gap long-term and fill our state’s talent pipeline, we must continue to advance apprenticeships in every corner of the state. As we work to make North Carolina the number one producer of world-class talent in the modern global economy, rest assured that we will continue to support the growth of North Carolina’s apprenticeship programs.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber