Rodney Jones knew he needed more than a high school diploma to provide for his family, and sought to learn a skill that could enable them to live the American Dream. Struggling to make ends meet while working in a call center, the Rockford, Illinois, native discovered an opportunity to become an electrician through the Northern Illinois Electrical Joint Apprentice Training Center.
It was exactly what he was looking for, though he had to wait more than a year until his application was accepted because of high interest in the program. He is currently a third-year apprentice working for Morse Electric at the Chrysler Corp. assembly plant in Belvidere making $29.25 an hour.
“What I love most about it is that they teach you everything you need to know and everything you want to know, while giving you real life experience,” Rodney said. “Every day is different, every time I go to work, I feel like I am being challenged and I am learning. The apprentice program is great because they pay you to learn and give you the on-the-job training.”
The electrical apprenticeship is a five-year program that includes 8,000 hours of on-the-job training, and 1,000 hours of instructional learning. Upon completion, Rodney will receive an industry-issued, nationally recognized journeyman certificate from the training center.
"If you would have told me four years ago that I would have this career opportunity I would not have believed you,” Rodney said. "The JATC has put their faith in me, and I work hard every day on the job and in the classroom to prove to myself and the JATC that their faith in me is justified. I am so grateful for this opportunity to have a job and a career that helps provide for me, my wife and two daughters.”
There are more than 500,000 apprentices across the country, with more apprenticeship opportunities added every day. These earn-while-you-learn training programs provide a clear career path forward through new skills, higher wages and opportunities for advancement. Learn more about at www.dol.gov/apprenticeship.
Editor’s note: The “DOL Working for You” series highlights the Labor Department’s programs in action. View other blog posts in the series here.
Rhonda Burke is a public affairs specialist for the department in Chicago.