Apprenticeship 321 was the first North Carolina community college-based apprenticeship program when it was launched in 2015. It is a consortium of local businesses and municipal agencies offering apprenticeships. Program participants receive job-specific training and a cost-free education from Gaston College while simultaneously being paid by their employers.
It was named as the 2021 Outstanding Apprenticeship Partner at the Apprenticeship North Carolina Awards ceremony held recently as a teleconference event.
Jill Hendrix is the college’s director of apprenticeships and work-based learning. Hendrix extolled the efforts of those behind the Apprenticeship 321 program.
“I am so excited, thankful and humbled by this recognition,” she said. “It takes a village to run an apprenticeship program, and we have so many awesome people who are a part of Apprenticeship 321. From all the Gaston College staffers and faculty––both past and present––that we get to work with, to the high school CTE (career and technical education) co-ordinators and teachers, Apprenticeship NC, our community partners and, of course, the partner companies and the current and graduate apprentices, we are beyond blessed to be a part of this extraordinary program that so positively affects the students and employees, their families and the companies for which they work.”
Dr. George Hendricks, the associate dean of career and technical education, and Tanya Osbia, the Apprenticeship 321 success coach, are also members of the program’s leadership team. Virgil Cox, who was the dean of engineering and industrial technologies before retiring two years ago, was also instrumental in the program’s development.
“I’m proud to be a part of the team that has made Apprenticeship 321 such a success and earned this well-deserved recognition,” said Hendricks. “When Virgil Cox and I first conceived the idea of creating an apprenticeship consortium to serve the industries and students in our community in 2013, we could only dream of the positive impact it would have. This award shows that dream has become a reality through the hard work of so many great people at Gaston College.”
Apprenticeship321 was co-founded by Dr. Dennis McElhoe, the former vice president for economic and work force development, who retired from Gaston College last year. Upon hearing of the recognition for the program, McElhoe said he was pleased.
“I was very happy to learn that Apprenticeship 321 was recognized as the 2021 Outstanding Apprenticeship Partner,” he said. “This recognition is a testament to the work of Gaston College’s faculty and staffers in their efforts to assist the region’s employers in developing a world-class work force. It is also a testament to the effective partnerships established with regional employers over the years since the program’s founding in their combined effort to provide the citizens of Gaston and Lincoln counties with exceptional educational opportunities that result in highly respected and well-paid careers.”
McElhoe also congratulated Hendrix, Hendricks and Osbia for all their hard work.