As a Year 4 HVAC apprentice, Dakota Clark has a lot on his plate between attending class, working a full-time job and balancing his personal life. So when he was asked to be the spokesperson for his class, the task seemed daunting, but for Clark, it turned out that being the leader of the Year 4 apprenticeship class and liaison between the students and the trainers was a responsibility worth making room for.
Through the Apprenticeship Student Council formed at the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Chesapeake Shores chapter, Clark has found that not only has communication between the students and their teachers evolved, but the quality of the education has increased.
The Apprentice Student Council, formed in 2010, is made up of class presidents or “foremen” representing each year of apprenticeship classes. Those leaders either volunteer or are selected to join the group whose goal is to enhance the apprenticeship program by creating industry partnerships, initiating informative class workshops, and securing relevant guest speakers to address the students. They meet quarterly to discuss what’s going on in the classroom and events and issues being worked on at the ABC chapter which then are taken back to both chapter staff and the other students.
“We get to go back to the people who run the show and let them know how everything is going for the employers, teachers and the students,” said Clark. “Ultimately, it’s helped improve communication and get things taken care of.”
Clark, who began working for an ABC member company about three years ago, found that the opportunities offered by ABC, including the ability to have input into his own education, far exceed what he had previously experienced.
“ABC offers security,” said Clark. “Some students who go somewhere else for training aren’t as prepared to sit for their test like ABC students are. At the end of our apprenticeship we have experience and a certificate we can take with us to show what we learned. ABC holds a high standard for their students and employers.”
Through the apprenticeship student council, the students at ABC Chesapeake Shores have become more aware of the issues addressed by the organization and have learned more about the industry and what it offers.
“Our industry can’t be replaced,” said Clark. “There is no place in America that I could go that doesn’t need heat.”