apprentices at Palmetto Synthetics pic

On January 9, students from C.E. Murray High School, Hemingway High School and Williamsburg Academy signed on as apprentices at Palmetto Synthetics. The local industry has led over 1,000 adults through an apprenticeship program but they hosted their first youth apprenticeship program last year. The program is a collaboration of Apprenticeship Carolina, Williamsburg County School District, Career and Technology Education, Palmetto Synthetics and Williamsburg Technical College.

Photo by Michaele Duke

Students attending Williamsburg County School District and Williamsburg Academy signed an agreement to participate in an apprenticeship program at Palmetto Synthetics. The program is a collaboration of Apprenticeship Carolina, the School District, Career and Technology Education, Palmetto Synthetics and Williamsburg Technical College in preparing workers for the future.

Palmetto Synthetics, LLC has provided superlative, specialty thermoplastic fibers to companies across the globe. The industry has led over 1,000 adults through an apprenticeship program but hosted its first youth apprenticeship program last year. Six students signed on at that time and three continue to benefit from the program. On January 9, students from C.E. Murray High School, Hemingway High School and Williamsburg Academy signed on as apprentices.  

Demterius Smith, Apprenticeship Consultant, Apprenticeship Carolina spoke about the economic impact of such programs. “Today is a big day and today is bigger than all of us. It’s about you but it’s bigger than all of us,” he said explaining there are over 200 registered youth apprentice programs in the state, most of which are not in rural areas. He said because of that, he’d like to build momentum on what is happening in Williamsburg County so that they can showcase it as a model to the nation. “Our office gets inquiries and visitors from all over the country trying to figure out how does Apprenticeship Carolina is successful in doing what you do,” said Smith adding. “The work that everybody is doing here, the impact is being observed in high places and all over the nation.”

The program combines high school curriculum and career and technology training with critical on-the-job training performed at a local business. As the young men and women go through the program and meet the requirements, they will see increases in their pay. Torrance Wilson, CATE Director for the Williamsburg County School District was an integral part of the first signing in 2019. “This room is filled so many people that have such high hopes for them,” he said, pointing to the four young men and one woman. “If they didn’t have high hopes they wouldn’t be here.” At the end of the apprenticeship the students will have an opportunity to earn a national credential from the U.S. Department of Labor, a portable, stackable credential that is recognized across the nation.

    Apprenticeship Carolina™, a division of the SC Technical College System, works to ensure all employers in South Carolina have access to the information and technical assistance they need to create demand-driven registered apprenticeship programs. At no cost to the employer, apprenticeship consultants are available to guide companies through the registered apprenticeship development process from initial information to full recognition in the national Registered Apprenticeship System.

    Any South Carolina employer, including a government agency, is eligible to sponsor an apprenticeship program and register it. Employers may sponsor a program individually, or they may collaborate with other employers with similar training needs. Programs also may be sponsored by a professional or trade association, a joint apprenticeship training committee, or a Small Business Development center on behalf of a consortium of employers. For more information visit https://www.apprenticeshipcarolina.com/