Gaylor Electric is a national electrical contractor headquartered in Indiana with more than 1,000 employees nationwide. To overcome the shortage of skilled electricians, Gaylor and Noblesville High School developed a unique internship program in 2013 in collaboration with Vision Noblesville, a community development initiative. Originally developed in 1993 as a benchmarking process to measure the city’s successes and failures, Vision Noblesville is an integral part of the community’s overall governance and development. One of Vision Noblesville’s primary objectives is to provide its citizens with high-quality educational opportunities by fostering partnerships between its local schools and businesses. Gaylor’s new internship program is the result of a partnership between Gaylor, Noblesville High School (NHS) and the local chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). The program is designed to provide high school students who lack a clear plan for their future with the direction and motivation they need to build successful careers.
Gaylor was one of more than a dozen local companies from a wide range of industries that connected with Vision Noblesville to partner with area schools. To develop partnerships, counselors from NHS visited participating companies to learn more about the different jobs they offered. Counselors toured Gaylor’s facilities and ABC’s training center to better understand the combined internship program. Afterwards, counselors expressed their appreciation for learning about the careers available for students.
After touring, counselors matched students with the businesses they felt would best suit their career interests. In the end, 125 students were selected for internships throughout the community, and nearly 30 of those students—mostly juniors and a few seniors—were selected for craft internships. Students were bussed to the ABC training center in Indianapolis one to two days a week for a three-hour, hands-on class where they learned NCCER Core Curriculum and were offered an introduction to the various career options available in the crafts. At the same time, students also attended a three-hour craft-training class at NHS one to two days each week in a more traditional classroom setting.
To further encourage and assist students, NHS and various companies held a career fair in the spring semester of 2014 where students in the program could interview with the different companies and apply for a paid summer internship. One of the goals of the event was to provide students with a real-world experience of the interview and hiring process. As a result, Gaylor hired 15 students for the summer internship. Over the eight-week summer semester, students reported to Gaylor Monday through Friday and worked 40 hours a week, for which they were paid $9 per hour. During that time, Gaylor trained students in the different tasks that make up a career in the electrical trade, such as pulling wire, running cable, installing light fixtures, running conduit, installing devices and cleaning up.
High school juniors who successfully completed the summer internship advanced to the second year of the program in August. As seniors, these students continue to intern with Gaylor two to three days per week, along with attending a Level 1 electrical apprenticeship class at ABC one night a week. At the end of the second year, students completed Level 1 of the electrical apprenticeship. By accomplishing this, students will not only be better prepared to start a full-time job at Gaylor when they graduate, but they will also be well on their way to getting their journeyman’s license.
Exact costs of the program are not known, but qualitative analysis has shown that the internship program costs are comparable to hiring the same number of new employees. There is a marginal amount of additional administrative oversight required, and the costs to provide transportation for the students are covered by NHS’s existing transportation budget.
The program gives students a significant boost in starting their careers. When they graduate, they will have their NCCER Core credentials and have completed the first year of ABC’s electrical apprenticeship program. From there, they can start working full time for Gaylor over the summer and move on to level two of the apprenticeship program.
The internship program is off to a promising start. Gaylor has hired six students already and another ten are expected to be hired in May 2015. Gaylor expects the program to provide 50 new employees each year. By putting that many young people to work, Gaylor is not only establishing a new pipeline of qualified craft professionals to sustain its own workforce, but it is also ensuring the prosperity of the entire community. In addition, the increase in man-hours during the summer months has been a significant benefit. Students are not just learning and expanding their experience, they are providing valuable manpower during Gaylor’s busiest time of year.
One of the primary goals of the program—and the goal of Vision Noblesville—is to develop an educated, well-trained workforce that will contribute to the city’s economic development. With six students already hired, another 10 expected to be hired in May 2015 and 50 employees each year after that, the internship program is a major success.Much of the program’s success is because of the commitment and flexibility from all sides of the partnership. The responsibility of a program like this does not have to rest solely on the private contractor. Gaylor has been fortunate to partner with ABC, as well as motivated educators at NHS that recognize the value of the internship program. When responsibilities are split up, the weight of getting a program like this off the ground does not set in one place, and each of the partners can move the program forward.