Roanoke Valley students getting training, paychecks and high school credit

Regional Apprenticeship Program paying off

Education Matters: Regional apprenticeship program
Education Matters: Regional apprenticeship program

SALEM, Va. – Fast food, babysitting or retail is what most high school students do to earn money.

There is something new happening. Salem, Roanoke County and Roanoke City schools are teaming up for a regional approach to apprenticeships for students.

Welding is in high demand.

“My favorite part about it is I’m moving a lot. I’m working hard,” said Jose Zuniga-Gomez, a Salem High School junior who is learning the welding trade. “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me and I really enjoy it.”

Mersen teamed up with Salem City Schools to offer the apprenticeship program.

“We want young people who have the right attitude, right mindset, interest, curiosity and the willingness to go through a training program,” said Martin Fischer, the Mersen General Manager.

It’s part of a growing approach, where Roanoke Valley schools are working with different businesses.

Students can learn many skills all while earning a paycheck, high school credit and an industry credential that means they could go straight into the workforce, skipping college. Apprenticeships include CNC Machining equipment, carpentry skills, electrical applications, plumbing applications, HVAC, surveying, water quality and water treatment. Organizers are looking to add to the list.

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