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Byrd Institute partners with ChalleNGe Academy for manufacturing training

By RUSTY MARKS

The State Journal

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Leaders of the Robert C. Byrd Institute and Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy have teamed up for an apprenticeship program intended to introduce young people to careers available in the manufacturing industry.

Robert C. Byrd Institute spokeswoman Becky Calwell said the first group of ChalleNGe Academy cadets recently completed a Robert C. Byrd Institute pre-apprenticeship program through Apprenticeship Works, the National Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Partnership. The pre-apprenticeship introduces disadvantaged youth to good-paying, high-skill jobs available in manufacturing, Calwell said.

The ChalleNGe Academy is a 22-week program for troubled youths overseen by the West Virginia National Guard. It is designed to focus on academics, job skills, community involvement, citizenship, health and hygiene, physical activity, life-coping skills and leadership.

RCBI Director Charlotte Weber said the partnership with the ChalleNGe Academy is an important way to prepare young people for success in today’s rapidly changing and globalized world.

“Skills training can enhance young people’s well-being and help them develop into active and productive members of their communities,” Weber said. “Programs such as ours can create a pipeline of future workers, which boosts the competitiveness of our state’s manufacturers.”

While at the academy, cadets took online courses in blueprint reading, robotics, introduction to asembly and pneumatic components and other classes, Calwell said.

“We’re pleased to offer this rewarding opportunity to the cadets at the Challenge Academy,” said Lucinda Curry, director of Apprenticeship Works. “We hope they continue on this path to success by securing employment and/or continuing to seek out opportunities through registered apprenticeships at manufacturers here in West Virginia.”

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