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Joplin manufacturers are taking advantage of Apprenticeship programs

ANDERSON, Mo. — If there is one thing manufacturing companies in the Four States need the most right now, its well-trained employees.

With the help of a local high school and college, they now have a pathway for future employees.

An area business, high school, and college are teaming up to establish a career pathway for high school students, allowing them to earn while they learn.

Students at McDonald County High School can now start working on an apprenticeship program through Cooper Gear in Anderson as early as their junior year and finish it in as little as two years after graduation.

Shawn Cooper says the program is a win-win because it provides students with a manufacturing career pathway, as well as providing his company with highly skilled machinists.

“We’re hoping as the program develops by the time they graduate, they will not only have an apprentice certification for programming, but they’ll have their CAD certification from Crowder, be a very very marketable candidate for any CNC job across the country,” said Cooper.

To complete the internship program, students must get additional training in computer-aided drafting or C.A.D. which they can get through Crowder College while still working for their employer, in this case, Cooper Gear.

“And that’s the difference between internship and apprenticeship. In an apprenticeship, it’s an employee that the company is investing in so they are paying to help them develop more skills,” said Dr. Katricia Pierson, President, Crowder College.

Tyler Allgood is the first person to finish his U.S. Department of Labor Apprentice Certification through the company and says he wishes the program would have been available when he was in high school a few years ago but would encourage current students to look into the program.

“I’ve always seen it as you either go to college or learn a trade. Well, now you can get a degree for learning a trade and it’s way more accessible. You don’t have to do both. You get the best of both worlds now, cause now you have a degree in what you want to do and then you also have the trade skills as well. You’re getting both and you’re not having to choose,” said Allgood.

Cooper Gear produces precision parts used in commercial as well as military vehicles.

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