This National Apprenticeship Week, we’re featuring apprentices at companies throughout North Carolina and sharing a behind-the-scenes look at a day in their life. While we often talk about the real-world job training that an apprenticeship provides, there are also educational benefits that make this an incredible opportunity for many young people. Even though an apprenticeship is an alternative to a four-year college degree, many students still receive associate or even bachelor’s degrees—like Dustin Harmon.
Dustin is a recent graduate of the Apprenticeship 2000 program with Max Daetwyler Corporation, where he earned an associate degree in Mechatronics Technology. After completing his apprenticeship and working on hands-on projects, Dustin is now pursuing his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering Technology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. The best part of continuing his education, Dustin tells us, is that he can continue working at Daetwyler while in classes—so he’s still getting paid to learn skills directly applicable to his trade.
Daetwyler not only manufactures consumables for the printing industry, they also design and build their own production equipment. When Dustin was an apprentice, he started every day with a check-in with his mentor before returning to his ongoing projects, which can range from wiring an electrical panel and running cables to a newly-built machine to troubleshooting machines he’s already built and hooking up sensors and motors. He chose an apprenticeship with Daetwyler after watching his brother go through the Apprenticeship 2000 program—the hands-on training, debt-free degree and guaranteed job were too good to pass up.
Daetwyler’s Apprenticeship Coordinator Bob Romanelli points out that students often feel pressured to pursue a four-year college degree, even if it isn’t right for them. That’s why he maintains a close dialogue with schools and parents in the area to share why work-based learning and apprenticeships at companies like Daetwyler are valuable alternatives. After starting their apprenticeship program 23 years ago, Daetwyler today sees more than 50% of their former apprentices staying on for five years after their program finishes.
From educational opportunities to real-world career training that he’ll use for years to come, the benefits of Dustin’s apprenticeship are sure to resonate with other young people considering their futures. His advice to those students? Put deep thought into your plan. There’s no right or wrong answer for anyone, but an apprenticeship can take a lot of burden off your shoulders and prepare you for a bright future.
To learn more about Dustin, check out his Twitter takeover here.