Davidson County Community College partnering with Egger’s North American for apprenticeship program

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. -- Near the Yadkin River in Davidson County, contractors are preparing the land for Egger's North American headquarters and factory. On the other side of the county in Thomasville, educators are also preparing for the Austrian wood-based material producer.

"It's definitely a very positive way of making sure we meet the economic needs of our region and supply the companies the personnel they are going to need, not only today but in the future," Davidson County Community College President Dr. Mary Rittling said.

DCCC is partnering with Egger's to create an apprenticeship program. The initiative is geared toward high school students. The apprenticeship program teaches students advanced manufacturing skills and allows them to earn a salary at the same time. Two years later, graduates will receive an associate's degree and a job. Rittling believes the program will benefit students.

"It's a a first in the door opportunity. Something they will see as a lifetime career and be a part of that company's organization for a long time," Rittling said.

In the short term, the Egger's manufacturing plant will not be operational until 2020. DCCC instructor Kerry Smith said the college's machine shop is able to provide the students with the hands on advanced manufacturing training they need.

"The equipment they use in their facility is almost identical to what we have. So there's no new learning curve when they step out of our classroom and into their facility," said Smith.

Smith adds instructors associated with the apprenticeship program also had to go to school. They went to Egger's headquarters in Austria to see how the company develops successful employees.

"We got to see first hand what curriculum they had set up and what type of equipment and were able to interact with their instructors to understand what they did training wise," Smith said.

DCCC will hold an apprenticeship interest meeting on May 15. The event will be held at 6 p.m. on DCCC's main campus in Thomasville at the Rittling Conference Center.

The first phase of the new Egger's plant will create 400 new jobs. The second phase calls for an additional 370 new jobs.