Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeships signing day

HVAC apprentices Nick Myers (front row, second left) and RaeQuan Floyd (front row, third left) with VP of Facilities Management John Morris (back row, third left) at the Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeships Program’s sixth annual signing day ceremony on July 30, 2019. (Photo provided)

RaeQuan Floyd and Nick Myers are making the College of Charleston cooler than ever!

Hired by Facilities Management last summer through the Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeship Program at Trident Technical College (TTC) in North Charleston, the two HVAC apprentices are getting on-the-job training and experience and giving the College two skilled and hardworking employees to help maintain the HVAC systems.

“I have been thanked more than once for bringing these young apprentices on board,” says Frank Covington, director of facility operations. “The techs in the HVAC Shop are enjoying their energy, enthusiasm and eagerness to learn.”

“Working with these young adults actually helps our current workforce by providing them the opportunity to be mentors and share their knowledge,” adds John Morris, vice president of Facilities Management. “In general, our current technical skilled trades workforce is aging, and many of our current baby boomers in HVAC have, are, or soon will be retiring. And because there seems to be a low supply of HVAC technicians in the local community, they are in such high demand that we are having difficulties attracting new employees with our state salaries. So, we decided to try a new approach and groom our own future workforce. I feel it benefits the College by providing a skilled workforce to operate and maintain our buildings and does a service to the local community by providing a job opportunity to these students. Kind of a win-win-win all the way around.”

Now in its sixth year, TTC’s apprenticeship program has seen a total of 309 apprentices hired by 132 companies in 18 occupational pathways. The youth program prepares high school graduating seniors, as well as rising high school juniors and seniors, for careers in a variety of fields, including air conditioning and refrigeration/HVAC, electrician, machinist and welding, among many more. It is an opportunity for students to learn through paid on-the-job training under the direction of an industry mentor, while also taking college classes that directly relate to their apprenticeship.

“I think this is an exciting program and I’m pleased that the College is able to support the local community while fulfilling our own needs,” says Morris. “Nick and Floyd are our first two intern apprentices and if this pilot program works, I am hopeful that we can expand it.”

For their part, Myers and Floyd are happy to be working at CofC.

“It’s a big opportunity,” says Myers, who graduated in May from Wando High School in Mt. Pleasant and was hired at the College not long thereafter. “We stay busy, and we’re really getting the swing of things.”

Floyd joined the TTC’s Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Mechanics certificate program – and the College’s workforce – right after graduating from Garrett Academy of Technology, a career training high school in North Charleston.

“I’ve learned a lot so far,” says Floyd, adding with a laugh: “I’m learning to get up early in the morning and work hard all day.”

“They’re out with the techs getting field experience and hands-on training while they’re still in school. As they get more and more experience, their responsibilities will continue to grow,” says Covington, noting that the apprentices went through the same job interview process as any other College employee. “They’re just like regular employees – they’re just being trained on the job. So, they’re getting a leg up in their careers, and the College is getting a leg up in recruitment so we can grow our workforce. It’s definitely a win-win for everybody.”

And that is pretty cool.

Featured image: RaeQuan Floyd and Nick Myers were hired as HVAC apprentices as part of the Charleston Regional Youth Apprenticeship Program. (Photo by Heather Moran)