USDOL, PLTW, Trident Technical College Pilot Program

CHARLESTON – A new national engineering youth apprenticeship program was announced Wednesday at Trident Technical College in North Charleston. U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) Office of Apprenticeships Deputy Administrator Daniel Villao joined Dr. Vince Bertram, president and CEO of Project Lead The Way (PLTW), and Dr. Mary Thornley, president of Trident Technical College, to announce the pilot engineering youth apprenticeship program in conjunction with National Apprenticeship Week.

The Engineering Youth Apprenticeship Program will help connect high school students to high-demand engineering careers and connect employers with PLTW students who have the knowledge and skills to fill their labor needs. The U.S. Department of Commerce projects that employment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) occupations will grow 8.9 percent from 2014 to 2024, more than 2 percent faster than job growth in other sectors. According to Emsi data provided by the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, occupations in engineering are projected to grow 14 percent by 2020 in the Charleston Metro area. STEM employers report a growing skills gap as they seek to fill open positions.

"We are proud to partner with the U.S. Department of Labor and Trident Technical College to expand career pathways for students,” said Bertram. “We have a moral and economic imperative to empower students with the skills, knowledge and experience to thrive in our rapidly evolving economy, and this youth apprenticeship program in engineering will do just that.”

In April 2017, the USDOL Office of Apprenticeships launched a partnership with PLTW to solve this problem. PLTW is a national educational nonprofit that designs classroom instruction in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for delivery to millions of students and teachers across the country. The USDOL and PLTW selected TTC as the post-secondary partner and employer liaison to pilot this national initiative.

“The Department of Labor is really interested in making sure that apprenticeship is modeled at the highest levels, and partnerships with our college and university partners have floated to the top as a priority for Secretary Acosta,” said Villao. “We want to make sure that partnerships, like this one with Trident and PLTW, that are creating pathways into engineering careers for high school students, are really looked at as potential models by major employers, like Boeing and Robert Bosch, to demonstrate how employers are now reimagining the way workforce pipelines work in our country.”

Trident Technical College was instrumental in establishing the Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeship program, a regional collaborative launched in 2014, which includes four school districts that deliver PLTW engineering curriculum, and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. Based on the current model, the new initiative is scheduled to start in fall 2018.

“The pilot engineering youth apprenticeship program will offer high school students the opportunity to work as apprentices for participating employers, combining their Project Lead The Way engineering classroom instruction with college curriculum and mentored on-the-job training. This is a win/win opportunity for both students and employers,” said Thornley.

Students are eligible for the apprenticeship program after completing two PLTW Engineering courses, Introduction to Engineering Design and Principles of Engineering, at their high school. Students can continue the PLTW Engineering pathway through their junior and senior years as they pursue their apprenticeship.

Participating employers in this national pilot will include Boeing, Robert Bosch, Charleston County, Mobile Communications, and Thomas and Hutton, which have committed to hiring and mentoring high school-aged apprentices as engineering assistants. Students from Berkeley County, Charleston County, Dorchester 2 and Dorchester 4 school districts interested in the program should contact their school’s PLTW teacher or guidance counselor.

About Project Lead The Way

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is a nonprofit organization that provides a transformative learning experience for K-12 students and teachers across the U.S. PLTW empowers students to develop in-demand, transportable knowledge and skills through pathways in computer science, engineering, and biomedical science. PLTW’s teacher training and resources support teachers as they engage their students in real-world learning. More than 10,500 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia offer PLTW programs. For more information on Project Lead The Way, visit

Trident Technical College

Trident Technical College is a public two-year community college that provides quality education and promotes economic development in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties. An open-door institution of higher education, the college serves approximately 13,000 curriculum students who have a wide variety of educational goals, from personal enrichment to career development to university transfer. TTC further promotes economic development through continuing education courses; customized training for business, industry and government; and a variety of employment training programs.


Media Contacts:

Project Lead The Way
Jennifer Erbacher
Sr. Director of Media and Public Relations
[email protected]
(317) 669-0871

Trident Technical College
Noelle Blaney
Marketing Services
[email protected]
(843) 574-6556