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Economic Development and Growth through Education

11

n 2014, Apprenticeship Carolina

, Trident Technical College and five Charleston-area

businesses came together to establish the Lowcountry’s first youth apprenticeship

program. Jeff Teague, general manager of VTL Precision Inc., explains how VTL is already

seeing the positive results of being one of the founding companies of the program.

EDGE:

Please give us some

background on VTL Precision.

Jeff Teague:

VTL is a privately-

owned, progressive automo-

tive precision engineering

company with world-class

facilities in Europe, North

America and India. We

specialize in the design,

development, prototyping

and manufacture of high

specification precision components and sub-assemblies

for automotive powertrain applications.

The core business is focused on precision components

for engines, transmissions, turbo-chargers and other

powertrain applications for some of the world’s leading

automotive brands.

VTL established a facility in Charleston in 2007 in direct

support of their customer Cummins Turbo Technology.

VTL employs approximately 50 full-time associates

across multiple job categories. VTL has recently been

awarded new business and is planning for expansion in

2017.

EDGE:

Tell us about the implementation of your appren-

ticeship program. How did Apprenticeship Carolina and

your local technical college help you get it started?

JT:

VTL was involved on the ground floor as one of the

first five participating companies responsible for the

formation of the youth apprenticeship program

in 2014. This effort and the need for the program

stems from the industry-wide shortage of skilled

manufacturing personnel and the aging manufacturing

workforce. The average age of a worker in the industry

is late forties.

Apprenticeship Carolina was instrumental in getting

the program started. They worked to provide a clear

pathway from concept to program execution.

Apprenticeship Carolina along with Trident Techni-

cal College and the five initial manufacturers formed

Charleston’s first sector partnership.

By sector partnership, I mean a partnership of compa-

nies, from the same industry and in their natural labor

market region, with education, workforce development,

economic development and community organizations

that focus on a set of key issues identified as priorities

by the target industry.

EDGE:

What would you say is the top positive outcome

of having an apprenticeship program?

JT:

The best outcome has been making progress toward

our initial mission of educating youth on the wonderful,

rewarding, and high-paying jobs and career paths

available in the manufacturing industry. We also

achieved the additional goal of filling the skills gap this

year when we hired our inaugural apprentice into a

full-time maintenance technician role. While working

full time, he will pursue a four-year Mechanical

Engineering degree with the continued financial

assistance of VTL Precision.

EDGE:

Is there anything specific that you’d like to

highlight about your apprenticeship program?

JT:

As the smallest company by far of the five inaugural

companies in the sector partnership, I would like to

encourage other companies to take the leap – size or

existing infrastructure is in no way a precursor to having

a successful apprenticeship program. The key is to sim-

ply get started and let the creativity of your workforce

and the apprentices shape your specific program.

EDGE:

Tell us about your company’s relationship with

your local technical college – how are they helping to

meet the training needs of your Youth Apprentices?

JT:

VTL has a long history with Trident Technical

College through several of their adult education

programs. Most of our employees are graduates from

I

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