One North Alabama community college added a new cohort of nursing apprentices Thursday amid a statewide push for more apprenticeships to help feed the state's workforce.
"I think the appeal of an apprenticeship program just overall is that it is employer driven. They're supporting this, they're employees and they get to maintain that employment," said Kelli Morris, director of career services at Calhoun Community College.
Apprentices are both students and employees. For a group of future nurses at Calhoun Community College, that means they will be paid for their clinical hours.
"Under an apprenticeship program, you're hired by an employer. Your work hours as an apprentice count as your clinical time," said Lynn Hogan, nursing department chair at Calhoun.
"It's really taking a financial burden away from our students, or roadblocks that could be preventing students from applying to these types of programs," said Morris.
Registered Nurse is the newest apprenticeship offered at Calhoun, but apprenticeships in general are far from new.
"Apprenticeships have been known for ages for technical trades and needs in those areas," explained Morris.
Calhoun offers six different apprenticeship opportunities, from toolmaker to operations management. The programs allow students to get hands-on practice in their trade and get paid while also helping employers fill much-needed positions.
"It's just a win, win, win," said Hogan.
When students finish their apprenticeship and earn their degree, they begin working full-time. Apprenticeships feed the workforce in Alabama with qualified employees who already have hands-on training.
"We're more than just traditional day and night classes or online classes. Our goal is to feed your career," said Morris.
Thursday's cohort is the second group of nurses to go through the apprenticeship program at Calhoun.
Every community college in Alabama now has at least one apprenticeship program.