Locklin Technical College in Milton is adding an electrician apprenticeship program to accompany its HVAC and plumbing apprenticeship programs, thanks to a recent state grant.
The technical college will launch its new electrician apprenticeship program Jan. 20 after receiving $112,746 through the Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant Program. The funding will go to technology, equipment, curriculum and an apprenticeship coordinator.
“(The coordinator) is one of the key components for us to the expansion that we’ve seen, because you’ve got to have what we call boots-on-the-ground to go out and recruit those participating employers to actively get those apprentices registered,” said Locklin Technical College Principal Maria LaDouceur. “They are the liaison between the college and the state apprenticeship board, in terms of writing the standards and making sure that those apprentices are meeting the requirements of the standards of apprenticeship. And so that takes a lot of legwork.”
The school also recently received a $25,508 Apprenticeship State Expansion Grant to support its existing heating and air conditioning installer/servicer and plumbing apprenticeship programs. Both grants were among $11 million in funding that Gov. Ron DeSantis awarded statewide through a partnership with the Florida Department of Education and Career Source Florida.
Locklin’s apprenticeship programs are available to anyone who is 18 or older and has a high school diploma. The programs are available to both people working in specific trades and those who want to break into that industry, offering an opportunity to work in the field and also attend weekly instruction at the school.
Locklin partners with about 40 local employers to provide apprenticeship positions, which typically last three to four years.
“That’s one thing about really everything that we do here at the Technical College is you are not training people just to go to work in Santa Rosa County. You’re training people to go to work in the region,” LaDouceur said. “And, you know, in the end they’re impacting the workforce in our region.”
LaDouceur said Locklin’s programs promote career pathways that employers in the community say are in high demand.
“(There are) not as many folks going into (electrician, HVAC and plumbing industries), so you have an aging out population of technicians that are aging out of the field,” LaDouceur said. “And we don’t have enough new folks coming into that pathway.”
Assistant Principal Keith Hines stressed the flexibility and usefulness of trade jobs.
“The trades are just that. You can go to work as an electrician here and say, ‘I’m tired of living here, I want to move to Michigan,’ and all those skills are the same,” Hines said.
And the apprenticeship is just the first step of a trade job’s hierarchy, according to Hines.
“There are three different levels when you’re talking about construction trades: the apprentice, journeyman worker and then the master,” Hines said. “So, you have to spend — like in the electrical industry — you have to spend 8,000 hours in the electrical field as an apprentice before you can be qualified as a journeyman.”
As of now, LaDouceur said Locklin has 23 HVAC apprentices, 15 plumbing apprentices and is hoping to have 15 electrician apprentices.
“We’re hoping for 15 (electrician apprentices). That’s definitely our goal just in the first semester,” LaDouceur said. “So, I know we’ve already got three participating employers that are ready to send us some apprentices.”
LaDouceursaid the college also is looking to future expansion. She said diesel mechanics and information technology are the two frontrunners for the next additions.