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ABC grads walk away with valuable skills

August 14, 2006|by TARA REILLY

Audra Stone was about to be laid off from a factory job she held for 11 years.

So, she applied for a position with an electrical contractor in Clear Spring and got hired.

She started out a little scared and with no prior interest in electrical work

"When I started this, I couldn't even get up on a ladder," said Stone, 40.

But that didn't stop her.

She enrolled in Cumberland Valley Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors Inc.'s (ABC) Apprenticeship Program to perfect her new trade.

On Thursday, Stone was one of 26 graduates to complete the program after four years of training. The 2006 Apprenticeship Graduation Banquet was held at Four Points Sheraton in Hagers-town.

Stone, who is a journeyman electrician for Kelscott Properties, was the only female in her class.

Students spend four years of training at the Cumberland Valley Technology Center in Hagerstown in carpentry, electrical, plumbing, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

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Classes run from October through April, and most classes are held twice a week.

Stone said the effort was worth it. She loves her job, and her 19-year-old daughter, Monica, thinks it's cool, she said.

Dana Daugherty, deputy administrator for the Office of Apprenticeship Employment and Training Administration for the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., told the graduates their skills will remain with them throughout their lives.

And their jobs will likely always be needed without a fear of outsourcing, he said. Somebody will always want a house built, for example, he said.

"You don't just float them bad boys in from China," Daugherty said.

He also encouraged the graduates to keep up with changing technology in their trade and to continue their education.

"Stay up with your trade, but go ahead and advance your education," Daugherty said. "Your apprenticeship program will open doors for you that you don't even see today."

M. James Rock, ABC chairman of the board, said there is a shortage of skilled workers and that, with apprenticeship training, work will be available.

"It's a great opportunity to get a start in the trades," Rock said. "The trades are something that can never be taken away from you."

Daugherty encouraged the graduates to be proud of their certificates marking the completion of the four years in training. He said the certificates are often called "the other four-year degree," a term he likes.

"It's just like your degree," he said. "Take it home and frame it. Be proud of it. You put four years into earning it. Hang it up. Share it. Enjoy it."

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