For 2014 Bradwell Institute graduate Sharlisa Swift, some days at work look “like something you only see in movies.”
“When I first came, I got to watch them forge, and it was cool to see the metal heat up, watch the colors change and see the metallic reaction that produces parts,” Swift said about working for local aerospace manufacturer Firth Rixson.
Swift is among five Liberty County Manufacturing Collaboration apprentices who will rotate between Firth Rixson, Elan Technology, Interstate Resources and SNF Holding Company during a two-year program.
The LCMC is recruiting for its second apprentice class and will hold an information session at 6 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Liberty College and Career Academy.
“This is a great ‘earn while you learn’ opportunity,” Liberty College and Career Academy CEO Tom Alexander said. “It has potential to lead to a career with high wages and an Associate of Applied Science degree with a specialization in Manufacturing Technology from Savannah Technical College.”
Alexander has worked closely with representatives from each employer, as well as Savannah Technical College, to recruit apprentices and develop the program.
Current apprentices are in their first rotation, working 20 hours per week at $10 per hour while enrolled in Savannah Technical College classes. Next year, they will move to a dedicated one-year position with one employer, and apprentices are guaranteed interviews with two of the four participating companies upon program completion.
“I’ve already got friends asking, ‘Can I join?’” Swift said. “This is a really great learning experience — it’s something I didn’t think I’d be interested when I first heard about it, but I’m really liking it.”
Swift is on a business-wide rotation with stops in the company’s forge shop, shipping department and quality control.
Fellow BI graduate Christopher Hunt’s has taken on a focused role at Firth Rixson, working on test-sample storage for archival purposes.
“This experience has shown me that there are more jobs available in the area than working in stores or fast food,” he said. “I stepped right into a top-of-the-line job.”
Bradwell Institute graduate Kayla Barley — an apprentice at R.B. Lumber, a division of Interstate Resources — agrees.
“For my first job, to be making $10 per hour, that’s pretty rare,” Barley said.
Orientations have been offered in half of senior classes at both of Liberty County’s schools, Alexander said, and more than 88 students have shown interest for next year’s program, which begins in June 2015.
Participants will spend three months each working for aerospace manufacturer Firth Rixson; SNF Holding Company, which manufactures water-soluble polymers and polymer feed equipment; Interstate Resources’ timber and lumber operation; and Elan Technology, which manufactures glass and ceramic electronics components.
Underclassmen interested in future consideration for the program should enroll in the Certified Manufacturing Specialist pathway offered through the Liberty College and Career Academy.