Valmont Industries, a global provider of vital infrastructure and technology, has welcomed 24 new pre-apprentice and apprentice students into its trade program in Jasper, Tennessee.
“In Tennessee alone, thousands of skilled trade positions across the industry are open to young professionals,” said Diane Larkin, executive VP of global operations at Valmont. “This demand compounds on a national scale, with recent federal funding to modernize U.S. infrastructure and a growing number of retiring skilled trade workers as the main driving forces.”
Since it was established in 2019 as the first college-sponsored welding pre-apprenticeship program in Tennessee, there have been 37 program graduates. More than a dozen graduates are now working full-time at Valmont.
The seven new apprentices will receive on-the-job (OJT) practical training at Valmont paired with classroom instruction at Chattanooga State Community College, the registered apprenticeship sponsor.
“Participating in the apprenticeship program was a great way to earn a wage while gaining the welding and fitting experience, as opposed to paying for experience through a more traditional higher education path,” said Seth Davis, a recent apprenticeship graduate now working as a full-time Valmont team member as a welder and fitter.
Program graduate Brett Kirk also now works at Valmont as a welder and fitter and said the program is nothing short of life-changing.
“Valmont’s program has given students like me a chance that, otherwise, I would have never had. It truly could change young men and women’s lives,” said Krik.
Valmont partners for its pre-apprentice program with two primary school districts, Marion County Schools and its newest partner, Sequatchie County Schools. The 17 new high school-aged pre-apprentices will receive firsthand training at Valmont during the school day and have an opportunity to join the apprenticeship program or be hired by Valmont after graduation. The 2023 class includes four female welding pre-apprentices.
“It is an exciting time for young professionals to enter skilled labor trades,” said Larkin. “Our world is getting ‘smarter’ by the minute through rapid technological advances. These students will join our diverse, modern workforce that provides reliable power worldwide, builds stronger, safer ‘smart’ cities, and feeds our growing population through innovative agricultural solutions. It’s critical, global work.”
“Valmont is investing in the future of advanced manufacturing by investing in people. This program tells our students that they have chosen a career that is essential to the sustainability and growth of our communities and our country. It tells our students that they have chosen a career that will offer them a quality living wage,” said Chrisi Eggert, coordinator of the Student Career Development Center at Sequatchie County Schools. “This direct pipeline from education to application is forged by those dedicated to empowering our young people. Valmont is making a difference.”
Valmont offers manufacturing career training opportunities in several areas and looks forward to working with additional education partners as it empowers the next-generation of skilled workers.