Wayne Brothers Companies provides concrete construction and civil and infrastructure solutions throughout the Southeast. The Davidson, N.C.-based company started its apprenticeship program in the mid-1980s, not long after the company was founded. Amanda Roberts, craft training instructor for Wayne Brothers, said the company initially struggled to fill open positions with qualified workers. An apprenticeship program became a necessity for the firm to continue to grow.
“Many of the jobs we have require a certain expertise,” said Roberts. “It became clear early on that the talent we needed just wasn’t there. The apprenticeship program enables us to ensure our workers have the necessary skills to do the job and do it right. The program has improved employee retention, reduced churn and allowed us to promote from within. In addition, critical knowledge is now passed down to the next generation of employees.”
Wayne Brothers has around 100 apprentices in its regular apprenticeship program, as well as 10-20 per semester in its pre-apprenticeship program for high school students (temporarily on hold due to COVID-19). The construction management program combines field experience with classroom learning. Pre-apprentices even get a waiver for a two-year degree program at the local community college and partial credit for work experience.
“The pre-apprenticeship program gives youth a good understanding of what the job is really like,” said Roberts. “It’s hard work – you’re often outside all day and you get your hands dirty. But the program also builds the students’ confidence and helps them understand this career is attainable.”
When asked about working with the ApprenticeshipNC consultant, Roberts said, “They are wonderful. I’ve worked with Pamela, Eric, and now Kevin. They help you set up your programs (if they are not already established), and they just make the workload a lot easier on you by navigating you through what you need to do and what you don’t need to do.
“I would tell anyone considering an apprenticeship program, just do it. It’s a win-win. You’re helping the community by training someone on new and needed job skills. And you benefit by getting a dedicated worker who has the skills you need.”