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High School Skilled Trades Apprenticeship Program Students Graduate

South Carolina

High School Skilled Trades Apprenticeship Program Students Graduate

Twelve high school students in Florence, South Carolina graduated on June 21 from a new 120-hour apprenticeship program putting them to work on projects at McLeod Regional Medical Center. The students rotated through different skilled trades jobs over the course of the apprenticeship, including construction, HVAC, electrical and plumbing. The graduation ceremony was well attended, including McLeod Health’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees, McLeod Health’s Vice President of Maintenance & Facilities, Charlie Plant from Big Picture Learning, the Department Heads/Mentors from each rotation, and many proud family members.

“I really love how they’ve made me feel like I’m part of the team, and they trust me,” said Markis Wells, an apprentice who attends Darlington High School. “My mentor, Mr. Burris, has taught me so much and given me a new appreciation for what trades workers do.”

Wells has a full scholarship to college where he will study electrical engineering. He plans to return to the medical center on his summer breaks to continue working on their construction projects. His mentor, McLeod Director of Construction Lee Burris, says apprentices like Wells were given valuable opportunities to learn about the skilled trades in the program.

“We made sure that the apprentices were involved from the get-go in everything we do. We gave them hands-on experience working with our power tools and other hand tools needed for the job,” Burris says. “We had Markis hanging drywall on day two.”

Throughout the apprenticeship, students documented their experiences and reflections on their progress. Three of them have been offered positions as a result of the apprenticeship program. Neighboring cities have expressed an interest in implementing the apprenticeship program in their hospitals, as well. The Harbor Freight Fellows Initiative and McLeod Workforce Development teams hope to create a curriculum and guide for distribution.

“My overall experience here was truly one to remember,” Wells said at the graduation ceremony. “Gaining valuable hands-on experience with the mentors was helpful and provided me with a lot of knowledge about the skilled trades. I would highly recommend this experience to my peers, especially those who are interested in skilled trades. Words cannot express how happy I was to be chosen for this program.”