Christopher Baker hasn’t finished college yet, but he’s already on his way to becoming a mechanical engineer.
“This is a good beginning because it gives you the first step that you might need to actually think what do I want to do,” he said.
After graduating from high school in Spring Hill, Baker came to work here at Pharmaworks in Odessa as an apprentice.
The company makes hi-tech packing equipment for the pharmaceutical industry.
“It’s quite an amazing opportunity for me,” he said.
Pharmaworks was at the forefront of supporting Am Skills in the Bay area.
Apprentice training centers here are modeled after those in Germany.
“The apprentices have actually been involved in some key projects and were able to help us to fulfill our commitments to our customers,” said Pharaworks Apprentice Coordinator Bill Huyett.
President Donald Trump is backing apprenticeship programs nationwide, with the goal of giving American workers more job skills.
The Federal Labor department says 90% of those in apprenticeship programs had a job waiting for them with an average salary of about $60,000.
“The industry needs qualified skilled technicians,” said Huyett.
There are plans to call on Congress to pass reforms expanding apprenticeships and raising awareness that they are a viable career path outside of traditional college.
Even with a full time job here, Baker plans to get his degree.
Then the goal is to continue at Pharmaworks.
But as a full fledge engineer.
“I’ve learned how to do a huge amount in this field and I know without actually having the experience of being here, I wouldn’t have been able to get it,” said Baker.
While apprenticeships programs are centered on manufacturing right now, officials hope to see them used in a wide variety of industries in the future.
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