The Newnan Times-Herald


Labor officials: Apprentices can enter manufacturing facilities earlier

  • By Rebecca Leftwich
  • |
  • Feb. 13, 2018 - 9:15 PM

A major scheduling roadblock has been removed for participants in Georgia’s German-style apprenticeship program after the U.S. Department of Labor approved a request to allow students younger than 16 to train inside manufacturing facilities.

Apprentices also will be allowed to work longer hours each day under the new regulations set forth by the agency, effective immediately through June 30, 2019 as part of the Georgia Department of Education’s Work Experience and Career Exploration Program.

Previously, child labor laws prevented students under the age of 16 from working jobs in manufacturing facilities. Because the Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (GA CATT) apprenticeship program targets high school sophomores who may be as young as 14 at the beginning of the school year – and many of whom remain 15 for the majority of the school year – coordinating start dates for in-facility training proved problematic.

First-year apprentices are required to successfully complete a series of projects designed to develop competency in basic industrial mechanic skills. GA CATT appealed to the Department of Labor to relax its existing youth employment standards to allow apprentices younger than 16 to complete a portion of those projects in manufacturing facilities to provide context and allow for job shadowing and other work skill learning opportunities.

According to the new standards, apprentices in the GA CATT program no longer will be limited to three hours per school day in those facilities. Instead, they will be held to a 23-hour workweek, which will allow the program to better manage its overall schedule.

The GA CATT German-style apprenticeship program allows high school sophomores to concurrently earn high school diplomas and technical college credit while receiving paid on-the-job training over a period of three years. Piloted with the Coweta County School System’s Central Educational Center, West Georgia Technical College and eight Coweta County manufacturers during the 2016-17 school year, the program has expanded to include four additional college and career academies for the current school year.