TAMPA, Fla. - With changes brought on by the pandemic, a lot of people are changing careers. For someone who needs to get paid while they learn a new trade, a new apprenticeship program could be the right path.
Nicole Wright is a veteran, a mother, and now an apprentice electrician. She was transitioning careers when she found the state-certified apprenticeship program.
"It was amazing to me that they had the opportunity available for the females and people in general who just don’t like the idea of a university and it's just been fantastic," says Wright, who works for A&A Electrical Services.
Tampa City Council passed an ordinance that will require any contractor working on a large city-owned project to allocate at least 12% of the labor hours for state-sponsored apprentices.
City leaders say it's good for the workforce and the workers.
"When you come out of it you have training, you have skills that will be with you for a lifetime," says Brenda McKenzie, the city’s director of workforce partnerships and special projects.
With the current building boom, there is lots of opportunity in the trades, like construction, plumbing and electrical.
Wright says with a family and a tight schedule, a paid apprenticeship looked better than paying for college and she’s learning a high-paying trade.
"With my instructors, if I don’t have a complete understanding they will drop everything and make sure you understand it. They are absolutely wonderful taking the time to help you," she said.
The first city project under the apprenticeship ordinance will be the new city center at Hannah Avenue. City leaders are hoping to set an example so that more projects in the private sector use Florida’s State Certified Apprenticeship programs.
"Whether it’s in manufacturing, whether it’s plumbing, whether it's cyber-related, it's all right there," says McKenzie. "You can click on a link and sign up today."
Just like Wright did when she plugged into a career as an electrician, she says it allows her to use both her hands and her mind.
"We get to do both and it’s a very good career," she says.
To find out about state-certified apprenticeship programs visit www.tpawrx.org.