City of Asheville Streets employees earn journeyman certification

Offering employees the ability to learn and advance professionally benefits the employees themselves and an organization as a whole. That’s the guiding point behind the City of Asheville’s apprenticeship partnership, operated through the Public Works Department, that provides employees in the Streets Division the opportunity to earn labor journeyman certification through the N.C. Department of Labor.

In May, the division expects to graduate 11 employees who chose to go through the apprenticeship and have completed the necessary requirements to receive their journeyman certifications.

The program, a hybrid of classroom and field work, has been offered for the Streets Division employees since 2002. “They get their journeyman’s card and the city ends up with a highly cross-trained and experienced employee,” says Assistant Director of Public Works David Foster.

The apprenticeship program also reinforces the City of Asheville’s desire to foster and retain a home-grown workforce.

Foster, Public Works Director Cathy Ball and head surveyor John White serve as instructors for the City of Asheville’s journeyman certification program. Streets division employees can earn certificates in three trades: laborer, equipment operator and supervisor.

The program has proved so successful that Foster recently attended a N.C. Department of Labor conference in Greensboro, appearing on a panel about best practices for teaching adults. The discussion included tips on forming a curriculum, providing training hours and coordinating with local community colleges.

The N.C. Department of Labor requires organizations who opt into apprenticeship programs to develop and submit their own curriculums, and employees who sign up must meet a requirement of 2,000 hours. Meeting that goal can take two to four years, and so far, the City of Asheville’s program has seen 26 graduates.

And, says Foster, the Public Works department is currently examining opportunities to expand the program beyond the Streets Division and into other areas of the department.