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Yankee Gas Services Company
P.O. Box 270
Hartford, CT 06141-0270
Labor Department, Yankee Gas team up to launch first ever Vo-tech apprenticeship program
Mary Ingarra, Corporate Communications Specialist
WETHERSFIELD, October 4, 2001 – While many Connecticut teen-agers are starting the school year playing sports or joining after-school clubs, some are spending their after-school hours learning how to install and test natural gas meters, inspect boilers and furnaces or relight pilot lights. It’s all part of an Apprenticeship work site experience program sponsored by The Connecticut Department of Labor and Yankee Gas Services Company (NYSE: NU) of Meriden. The two have teamed up with the State's vocational technical schools to offer the pre-Apprenticeship program to high school-aged students.
It is the first pre-Apprenticeship program ever registered with a public utility in this state.
Eight young people, students at H.C. Wilcox Vocational Technical School in Meriden; Windham Tech in Willimantic; Emmett O'Brien Tech in Ansonia; and Bristol Tech and Henry Abbott Tech in Danbury are taking part. The four young men and four young women, ages 17 and 18, are working side-by-side with Yankee Gas Meters & Service mechanics and gaining valuable on-the-job experience.
"Apprenticeship is a time-tested method of training that continues to be superb," said State Labor Commissioner Shaun B. Cashman.
"Cooperation and teamwork on the part of everyone involved has made this pre-Apprenticeship program possible," explains Paul Femia, a Business Services Specialist in the Department of Labor's Meriden Job Center who helped coordinate the program.
According to Femia, an excellent partnership involving the bargaining unit and management at Yankee Gas, along with the vocational technical schools, was key in making the program a reality.
“We want these students to have a valuable, hands-on educational experience,” said Yankee Gas Vice President Christopher Beschler. “It’s our hope that what they’ve learned in this program will help them build successful careers that may include working for Yankee Gas.”
As a public utility, Yankee Gas is not obligated by law to have a state-registered Apprenticeship program. However, the company, opting to be held to higher standards, decided to "go the extra mile" and had the program certified by the state, notes Yankee Gas Training Manager Manny Tavares.
"I have no doubt that this will be a success," Tavares told the pre-apprentices during an early meeting of the group. "You are all pioneers and will no doubt talk with your classmates about the success you're experiencing here."
"Participating students can work up to 20 hours a week during the academic year," Femia explains. "As part of the program, participants log their hours into a record book, and Yankee Gas supervisors will sign off to verify those hours. To ensure a successful certification process, the Labor Department will provide monitoring services by way of annual visits with the students and Yankee Gas.”
"I like the hands-on experience I'm getting at Yankee Gas," said Steve Aducci, a W.C. Wilcox Tech student who is working with Meters & Services Supervisor Dick Barry. "I plan to eventually get my own operating license."
Stephanie Orlowski, a Windham Technical School student, seconds her colleague's sentiment. "I'm having a lot of fun through this program, and learning a lot," she said.
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Paul Oates, Communications Officer
Connecticut Department of Labor (860) 263-6539
Mary Ingarra, Corporate Communications Specialist (203) 639-4494
Yankee Gas Services Company
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