Ahead of ⁠t⁠he curve: Georg⁠i⁠a program offers appren⁠t⁠⁠i⁠cesh⁠i⁠ps for sophomores 

May 5, 2024

Bryce Fiedler

CALN Founding Member & CALN Board of Directors Secretary

Man in Blue Crew Neck T-shirt Wearing Clear Protective Goggles

Not far from Atlanta, an apprentice program for high school students is garnering attention for its proactive approach to career readiness. The Georgia Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (GA CATT), as it’s known, is open to students beginning in their sophomore year, making it one of the earliest starting apprenticeships for pupils in the U.S., according to The 74.  

The program takes after many European countries, where it is common for students to start their career paths at age 15.  

If they begin as sophomores, GA CATT students earn three years of apprentice experience by the time they graduate and work skills that can set them up with full-time jobs right out of school. The 74 met with one such graduate last year, Walker Reese, who now works for a local manufacturing company making wheels and casters.  

From The 74:

“I’d consider myself much further ahead than most,” said Reese, who bought himself a new car and started renting a house soon after graduating. “One, I already have a degree. Two, I’m living on my own paying my own bills at 18…19 comfortably, and three I’ve gained knowledge and expertise that most won’t have until they’re mid to late twenties.” 

Reese is not alone. As of last fall, 34 students had entered the program as sophomores, and 5 of those students had graduated.

One thing is clear from the article: the career and education landscape is changing, and those who get ahead of the curve are likely to find the most success.  

Earlier this year, I wrote about the West Ashley Center for Advanced Studies, a new education facility in Charleston where students from neighboring high schools can take numerous college and career-focused courses. Students got hands-on experience with welding and other skills when the Blue Collar Tour visited the school in February.  

With trade skills being in such high demand (a trend experts think will only continue), education leaders should continue finding innovative ways to provide apprenticeship and career opportunities for students.