A Young Apprentice's Pathway to Success

Do you remember the first time you flew on an airplane? For 18-year-old apprentice Phillip Fuller, it was in early March 2018, when he traveled to New York City to discuss his experience in a local apprenticeship program in North Carolina.

On Monday, March 5, the JPB Foundation held a grantee convening at their office in New York to discuss the value apprenticeship programs can bring to workers, companies, and communities. The JPB Foundation is very interested in how apprenticeships can be a pathway out of poverty and has invested in several innovative programs to expand apprenticeship programs to new industries and new parts of the country. Three grantees were asked to bring apprentices to share their stories and experiences. The National Fund for Workforce Solutions, a grantee of the JPB Foundation, brought Phillip, who was very excited to share his story.

As thousands of employers struggle to find skilled and experienced workers to fill critical open positions, many companies are developing apprenticeship programs to grow their workforce internally. Starting his career in advanced manufacturing at 18, Phillip is a perfect example of how an apprenticeship program can help a young worker enter and succeed in a new field.

At 16 years old, Phillip entered the apprenticeship program at Bright Plastics in Greensboro, NC. As a high school student, he split his time between traditional learning in school and developing the skills needed to enter into a career in manufacturing. After graduating from High Point High School in 2017, Phillip enrolled at Guilford Technical Community College where he is currently attending classes tuition-free while working toward an Associate Degree in Manufacturing Technologies.

“Apprenticeships are a great way to give young people the skills and opportunities they need to take the next steps into entering the workforce. These programs don’t all have to be in manufacturing; they can be in many other fields.” As Phillip pointed out, “During the meeting at JPB I learned that there are more types of apprenticeship other than the type that I’m involved in. Apprenticeships expand over many different fields other than manufacturing. I also was able to see the many different organizations that are involved in expanding and understanding apprenticeships.” Communities and companies across the country are working on developing or growing apprenticeship programs, and stories like Phillip’s explain why.

Phillip is continuing his apprenticeship while studying for his degree. He is in a Process Technician apprenticeship, where he spends time each week in the classroom learning theoretical content and working with a mentor at Bright Plastics doing on-the-job training. Phillip is one of many young people across his region, and the nation, taking advantage of programs that provide the skills and experience needed to succeed in today’s growing industries.

Phillip’s trip to New York was not just spent in a boardroom. Chaperoned by the National Fund’s Apprenticeship Program Director Pam Howze, Phillip was able to experience the Big Apple in a big way. He enjoyed a great meal, ending with a slice of New York-style cheesecake, and he also spent the night in a modern, high-tech hotel in Times Square. Phillip had this to say about his trip to New York, “The experience was wonderful! I mostly enjoyed meeting new people. I believe that expanding your network is key to success and this trip really helped me with this. I am truly thankful for the opportunity and experience that I was given.”

To learn more about the National Fund’s Apprenticeship Program, and hear more success stories like Phillip’s, visit our Expanding Apprenticeships page.