Roanoke Valley students attend Student Registered Apprenticeship Showcase

The Registered Apprenticeship program was designed in the 1930′s by the Roosevelt administration

SALEM, Va. – Finding a career path can sometimes be difficult for students but businesses in the Roanoke Valley are looking to give them a sneak peek into their fields of work.

The Student Registered Apprenticeship program gives students across the Commonwealth the chance to work toward credentials associated with each business through employment training and instruction.

Managed by the Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) in Virginia, the RA program offers a unique work-based learning model for 16 to 18-year-old students.

John Gagnon is a junior at Cave Spring High School. He along with over 100 other students from the Roanoke Valley got a sneak peek into some of the businesses offering apprenticeships at the start of the next school year.

“I don’t really have my future planned out yet so I wanted to come and see what all the apprenticeships were about and see if I could find a path for myself for the future,” Gagnon said.

Roanoke County Public Schools, Salem City Public Schools, and Roanoke City Public Schools have a regional program for student apprenticeships.

Jason Suhr, the Career Technical Education Director for Roanoke County Public Schools, said the program has continued to grow more and more over the years.

“The success of the program is built around the companies that we’ve partnered with … offering these career opportunities for students. I think the students feel like they can get a head start on these future careers,” Suhr said.

Suhr believes in giving students options and resources to succeed. While the apprenticeship program is not the traditional go-to-college routine ... it can still lead to opportunities for students to expand their education.

“The job market has changed. A lot of students want to consider opportunities in a career. We’re not saying don’t go to college…a lot of times that career will involve furthering your education but they might get help paying for it from the company they’re working for,” Suhr said.

The regional program has been successful for a couple of years now. Cameron Preast was one of the first apprentices to work at the Western Virginia Water Authority.

“The water authority’s apprenticeship program has definitely set me up to progress faster through my future. I would definitely would not be in this position without the apprenticeship program,” Preast said.

Following Tuesday night’s showcase, the students will now go through a more formal interview process. The program is still selective as dozens of applicants won’t get an apprenticeship.

The school systems are working collaboratively to get more businesses to become a part of the program.

About the Author

Connor Dietrich joined the 10 News team in June 2022. Originally from Castle Rock, Colorado, he's ready to step away from the Rockies and step into the Blue Ridge scenery.

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