Wake Tech, county program aims to increase skilled trades training

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Wake Tech and Wake County officially launched a new Wake Works program on Wednesday.

It's an initiative that will offer expanded apprenticeship opportunities and scholarships in skilled trades and technician programs where demand is high.

"So we're talking about plumbers, electricians, HVAC repair people, the people we need in our economy that we have a shortage of," said Matt Calabria, Wake County Commissioner.

The Wake Works program is an apprenticeship that bundles classroom time with on-the-job training.

"Job opportunities are often about the education you receive, training you receive but also the experience you have, on the job experience," said Dr. Scott Ralls, president of Wake Tech. "So apprenticeship really is the gold standard of bringing both of those together."

Wake County is putting up more than $500,000 with emphasis on covering the cost for underserved students or families living below the poverty line.

"Tuition, books, fees uniforms, tools, you name it we're going to cover it," Calabria said.

So while Wake is typically known for tech, Wake Works hopes to trade that term in.

"Every industry whether it's IT in the park or healthcare industry, they employ technicians," Ralls said. "Where we are right now, the convention center, if the lights go out, it's probably going to be a Wake Tech-trained electrician who's going to come in here and solve that problem, so they're the baseline of our economy."
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