My programs should be unnecessary. That’s a frightening sentence to write given the positive impact these manufacturing apprentice programs have on the students, the companies, and my college. But the reality is if Vermont Technical College graduated enough engineering technology majors, my clients could staff their workforce for free. Unfortunately, over the last two years Vermont Tech graduated only 180 engineering technology graduates even though it had the capacity to educate dozens more and there were well over 200 job opportunities for the graduates in their fields right after graduation (starting salaries for the two-year degree exceed $45,000). But because 40% of Vermont high school graduates do not go on to post-secondary education, the companies are forced to fill the gap by growing their own college graduates.
The most recent manufacturer to carve this path is the Global Foundries plant in Essex Junction, Vermont. They join GW Plastics, GS Precision and, the original manufacturing technician apprentice trailblazer, GE-Aviation, as Vermont companies tapping into what Forbes contributor Bandon Busteed labeled the “Go Pro Early” phenomenon for high school graduates. According to Busteed, as many as one-third of all traditional students in the next decade will "Go Pro Early,” that is, work directly out of high school and earn a college degree as part of the employment package.