On April 30 at 6 p.m., nineteen students from high schools across Roanoke County formally committed to one of eight partner businesses as part of the Roanoke County Public Schools Student Registered Apprenticeship (SRA) program for the 2019-2020 school year.
The SRA program began in 2017 as a pilot program with five students serving as apprentices with the Western Virginia Water Authority. The following year, more than 20 students became apprentices with more than five partner businesses. This year, 21 new students will join the growing list of students participating in the SRA program. This is in addition to the nine students from the previous year that are continuing with the program for a second year. This program is in collaboration with the Roanoke County Office of Economic Development.
As part of the SRA program, students work as a part-time employee at a partner business for up to two years. While in the SRA program, the students must work toward earning an industry-recognized certification that could then help these students secure high-wage positions within the partner organization.
“What makes the registered apprenticeship program beneficial is the flexibility it offers to both the schools and the partner businesses. Students are able to enter into the workforce in small numbers where they are needed,” said Jason Suhr, director of career and technical education for Roanoke County Public Schools.
“At each partner business, students are taking their related instruction while on the job. Students begin learning about the company, and begin to develop related skills, years earlier than if the student waited until they graduated from high school or college. More importantly, the students begin to develop a relationship with the partner business that hopefully leads to a long-term, high wage career,” Suhr said.