Economic Development and Growth through Education
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.
Please give us some
background on VTL Precision.
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,
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
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
Tell us about the implementation of your appren-
ticeship program. How did Apprenticeship Carolina and
your local technical college help you get it started?
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.
What would you say is the top positive outcome
of having an apprenticeship program?
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.
Is there anything specific that you’d like to
highlight about your apprenticeship program?
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.
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?
VTL has a long history with Trident Technical
College through several of their adult education
programs. Most of our employees are graduates from
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