MANNINGTON TWP. - Starting next school year, students at the Salem County Career and Technical High School will have the opportunity to become "green energy" apprentices.
On Tuesday night, Salem County Vocational Technical School District officials announced that they have received a $310,000 grant spread over two years from the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
"This year we are working with several companies to establish the program," said Bonnie Baker, supervisor of Community Information and Business Partnerships for SCVTS. "Last week we received the grant."
Part of the funding will help in the work necessary this year to set up this new program, while the rest of the money will be used next September to actually implement it.
According to Baker, approximately 30 students will be selected to become paid apprentices in local energy companies and partnering corporations.
Students will be selected based upon teacher recommendations, grades, attendance and other areas in their field. According to Baker, the SCVTS will also work with Salem Community College to potentially place students from the Energy Utilities Technical Program into the apprenticeship program.
"This program increases the marketability for students after they graduate," said Interim Superintendent Frank Maurer.
Partnering corporations include South Jersey Gas, Atlantic City Electric, Energy Freedom Pioneers and PSEG Nuclear.
Some of the companies involved are hoping those involved in the apprenticeships will one day join their companies.
"We are going to be challenged with a large number of retirements in the workforce - 18 percent in 2011 and 29 percent by 2013," said PSEG Nuclear Spokesman Joe Delmar. "We look at the SCVTS and Salem Community College as a way to grow local talent."
Working in the nuclear power industry requires specialized training in many areas, according to Delmar.
"Aside from the energy academies, we look at other opportunities at the SCVTS including the trained welders and electricians that we need here," said Delmar. "We have been working with the SCVTS to make sure the students have proper equipment, including donating machines that we are no longer using."
According to Maurer, to enter the program, students must first complete graduation requirements. Maurer explained that in other schools, a senior who completes graduation requirements is able to leave school early, but these students will increase their trade knowledge instead.
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