Valmont Industries, Inc. (NYSE: VMI), a global leader that provides vital infrastructure and advances agricultural productivity while driving innovation through technology, welcomed 17 new pre-apprentice and seven apprentice students into its welding and maintenance programs with a signing ceremony.
“Our apprentice and pre-apprentice programming offers young people the opportunity to become proficient in a skilled manufacturing trade, allowing them to earn family living wages. Also, a talent pipeline is created for our Valmont facility in Jasper for growth within a competitive environment, giving our company a distinct business advantage,” said Bruce Bacon, senior plant manager at Valmont’s Jasper facility.
Since it was established in 2019 as the first college-sponsored welding pre-apprenticeship program in the state, there have been 37 graduates, with more than a dozen now working full-time at Valmont. Apprentices 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 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 fitter and welder at Valmont.
Program graduate Brett Kirk also now works at Valmont as a fitter and welder 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,” he remarked.
Valmont partners for its pre-apprentice program with two primary school districts – Marion County Schools and its newest partner, Sequatchie County Schools. High school pre-apprentices receive hands-on 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.
“The success of these programs would not be possible without our outstanding education partners who continue to spark students’ interest in trades and provide classroom learning to complement Valmont’s training,” said Diane Larkin, executive vice president, global operations at Valmont.
“The opportunity for Marion County Schools to partner with Valmont has given our students an opportunity to look through a window to their future by gaining an early foundational understanding of their potential career and developing skills that will last a lifetime. The exceptional mentorship offered in this program will help our students succeed in their post-secondary endeavors, no matter where they become employed,” said Sherry Prince, the career and technical education director for Marion County Schools. “This partnership is changing our community by creating competitive future employees for a global workforce.”
“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. This direct pipeline from education to application is forged by those dedicated to empowering our young people. Valmont is making a difference,” said Chrisi Eggert, coordinator of the Student Career Development Center at Sequatchie County Schools.
According to data from Go Build Tennessee, one trade apprentice is available for every five retiring trade workers, with hundreds of thousands of skilled trade positions in Tennessee open to young professionals. This demand only compounds on a national scale as trade workers continue to retire and manufacturing needs increase with recent federal infrastructure funding.
Valmont’s Jasper facility is open to additional partnerships, as well as apprentices and pre-apprentice students, as its program expands. To learn more, visit valmont.com/jasper.
About Valmont Industries, Inc.
For nearly 80 years, Valmont has been a global leader in creating vital infrastructure and advancing agricultural productivity. Today, we remain committed to doing more with less by innovating through technology. Learn more about how we’re Conserving Resources. Improving Life.® at valmont.com.
The Marion Tribune – September 28, 2023