FirstEnergy Foundation Offers $15,000 to Hire Youth Apprentices

(August 6, 2018 – BALTIMORE, Md.) The Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation announced that the FirstEnergy Foundation has offered $15,000 to Washington and Frederick County businesses to support the hiring of youth apprentices through the successful Apprenticeship Maryland Program (AMP). The contribution, the third of its kind from the foundation in three years, provides $2,000 grants to help local businesses invest in onboarding youth apprentices. The donation was made during a check presentation hosted by Hub Labels, Inc. at its Hagerstown headquarters in conjunction with the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

“We knew that youth apprenticeship would help businesses build a pipeline of talented, energetic employees,” said Maryland Labor Secretary Kelly M. Schulz. “What we didn’t know is the profoundly positive impact that youth apprenticeship would have on students, employers, and their communities. The FirstEnergy Foundation understands the value in the apprenticeship program and has, through their partnership, given us the ability to create opportunities and life-changing experiences for our youth.”

FirstEnergy Foundation’s donation brings their total contribution to the program to $45,000. Since 2016, five Washington County companies have utilized $22,500 in grant funds. The businesses use the funds to offset costs related to hiring and training the youth apprentice.

“Potomac Edison is pleased to continue our financial support for this innovative apprenticeship program though the FirstEnergy Foundation, and we encourage more area employers to get involved,” said James A. Sears, Jr., president of FirstEnergy’s Maryland operations. “We understand employers face an ongoing challenge to find skilled workers ready for the demands of a technical workplace. Apprenticeship Maryland can provide that pipeline of future employees with the entry-level skills employers need.”

The AMP, founded in 2015 as a pilot in Frederick and Washington counties, is a partnership between the Maryland Department of Labor, the Maryland State Department of Education, the Department of Commerce, the county public school system, community educational and business partners, and area employers. Youth apprenticeship is open to all industries, with a priority on high-growth career tracks such as science, technology, engineering, math (STEM), and manufacturing.

“The funds generously donated by First Energy represent not only a re-investment in the Apprenticeship Maryland Program; they also demonstrate a strong investment in ensuring that our youth are able to earn and learn as they begin their careers,” said Dr. Lynne Gilli, assistant state superintendent with the Maryland State Department of Education. “First Energy is leading the way in addressing Maryland’s workforce development needs.”

Hub Labels, a Hagerstown-based label printing company, is one of the grant recipients. The family-owned company hired a youth apprentice from Williamsport High School to work in its company’s quality control and finishing department. The company, which has been established in Hagerstown since 1978, was looking for qualified talent, but also a way to give back to the local community.

“Our youth apprentice is eager, ambitious, and highly focused. He’s a great addition to the Hub Labels team,” said Thomas Dahbura, Hub Labels, Inc. president. “The hiring process was easy and the program is flexible, which is great because as a small business we don’t have a lot of additional resources. We’d like to keep it going and grow the program into various departments across our manufacturing platform.”

Since its launch, the Apprenticeship Maryland Program has grown by 145 percent in the number of participating youth apprentices, and 215 percent growth in the number of participating businesses. With apprenticeable occupations in such industries as manufacturing, construction, communications, media, and more, students gain valuable work experience in growing fields.

“The Washington County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the business community, our educational partners, and the state of Maryland, is committed to strengthening and growing a qualified workforce in our county,” said Paul Frey, Washington County Chamber of Commerce president. “The youth apprenticeship program is a great partnership because everyone can be successful by working together towards the common goal of creating a strong workforce through relevant training and development.”

Youth apprenticeship program students work a minimum of 450 hours with a certified employer, while receiving related educational training through their high school. Participating students typically work during the summer after their junior year and during their senior year with a state-approved employer. They work with a mentor to learn valuable skills and earn industry credentials and high school credit. Students also receive training in employability skills, interpersonal/social skills, and general knowledge of the world of work.

Learn more about the Apprenticeship Maryland Program or contact Targeted Populations Grant Program Manager Jeffrey Smith from the Maryland Department of Labor at jeffrey.smith1@maryland.gov.

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