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WMU considering youth apprenticeship program with Adecco

Winchester Municipal Utilities is considering a partnership with staffing company Adecco to create a youth apprenticeship program.

According to WMU General Manager Mike Flynn, the program’s main focus, if implemented, would be on recruiting individuals in high school who may be interested in the utility’s more technical jobs, like working at its water purification treatment plant.

Adecco representative Barrett Bridgewater made a presentation to WMU’s board of directors Thursday explaining how the program worked.

Bridgewater is the coordinator of Adecco’s Youth Employment Solutions (YES) program, which has partnered with the Kentucky Department of Education, the Kentucky Labor Cabinet and several businesses to offer the program.

In order to be eligible for an apprenticeship, students are required to be on a designated career pathway, be eligible for co-op and meet certain GPA requirements. Those who qualify will follow a work-based learning plan formula established by KDE to set the apprenticeship up. Once that is done, WMU would be able to begin seeking qualified students to participate.

Bridgewater said the program could be instrumental in fixing a skills gap  WMU is currently facing.

“You have a challenge right now,” Bridgewater said. “Where do you see yourself in five to 10 years in your operation?”

He added that schools in Kentucky and across the nation have seen a decrease in available career pathways, where students are taught a skill through mentorship and apprenticeship.

Through the YES program, WMU can offer an outlet for apprenticeship locally to Winchester students.

WMU commissioner Jimmy Powell said if the utility decided to move forward with becoming a part of the program, it would be able to open positions for one or two apprentices within its structure.

“I’m a real strong believer in real-world education, so I am all for giving this the opportunity,” WMU board Chairman Mike Anderson said.

Flynn said the water plant does not see a large amount of turnover, but the biggest challenge the utility runs into is finding qualified people capable of running it efficiently.

He added that the licensure required for careers in water treatment is a valuable asset when building a career.