“To be able to have a mix of education with real work experience – it’s a real job that pays you – I’d say there’s no reason not to try.” That’s the advice that PLTW student, Landon Toom, would give to anyone considering an apprenticeship. Landon is a senior at Pella High School in Pella, Iowa, and began an apprenticeship with Vermeer Manufacturing in June 2019.
Landon began his apprenticeship working 40 hours per week over the summer. With school back in session, he divides his time between attending classes at Pella in the mornings and working 20 hours per week at Vermeer in the afternoons.
When he finishes the two-year apprenticeship program, he will come away with a Journeyman’s license. He will also have an advantage over the competition if he chooses to pursue a full-time or part-time job with the company after successfully completing the apprenticeship.
A permanent position with the company could help Landon achieve his higher education goals, as Vermeer offers employees tuition reimbursement towards two- and four-year degrees. “I’m going to try and get my four-year degree through Vermeer; they’ll pay for my tuition,” Landon said. “My thoughts are that I’m probably going to stay with Vermeer and continue in the engineering field.”
Whether or not he stays with the company long-term, he is gaining impressive on-the-job skills that will benefit him throughout his career. “(The apprenticeship) puts me through a bunch of different trainings at Vermeer – learning software, service training, in the factory doing physical labor – all the different positions in the company,” he said.
This experience has opened his eyes to a career in manufacturing that he did not foresee prior to the apprenticeship. “I had never had major plans on where I was going to work but now it’s one of my top choices,” Landon said. “Both of my parents work there, and it’s a very large employer for the town.”
Landon began his PLTW experience in middle school with the PLTW Gateway Automation and Robotics unit and continued with the PLTW Engineering Introduction to Engineering Design course when he began high school. He says that PLTW has benefited him both in school and at his apprenticeship. “I think it’s made my high school times better,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed the classes, and I’ve been glad to continue them. The Intro to Engineering class has really helped me with my print reading while at work.”
Apprenticeship opportunities offer schools and districts another way to extend career and technical education beyond the classroom and empower students to gain real-world industry experience. PLTW welcomes partners to engage in immersive student experiences through apprenticeship programs. To support these efforts, PLTW serves as a resource to help connect and educate partners about the possibilities with these programs, which introduce students to high-demand job opportunities; link employers to PLTW students who have the knowledge and skills to fill their labor needs; and facilitate collaboration among PLTW schools, PLTW students, and business partners. In 2018, PLTW and the U.S. Department of Labor partnered to develop the PLTW National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards. These guidelines provide a comprehensive apprenticeship skills and knowledge framework that schools and industry can customize to meet local apprenticeship needs. To learn more or get started on developing your school or company’s apprenticeship program, complete this form.