SANFORD — Pfizer is Central Carolina Community College’s newest apprenticeship partner. The company created three positions specifically for maintenance apprentices in 2020. The new employees started work and classes in January. Two of the apprentices were already Central Carolina students.
One of them is U.S. Army veteran Brandon Yang of Sanford.
“I’ve always wanted to learn how to fix things. While I was deployed overseas, I had the opportunity to help our mechanics swap out the engine of our fuel truck and the rewarding feeling I had when the truck roared as we turned it on after the swap has fueled my desire to learn more about how things work and how to fix them,” Yang said.
Hunter Cox, of Sanford, said he decided to participate in the apprenticeship as he was looking for an intern opening at Pfizer because of all the great things he has heard about the facility.
“The apprenticeship is a great thing. It has given me a great job while also letting me have time for school,” Cox said.
The third apprentice is Marvin Lewis, of Spring Lake, who was enrolled in the college’s Industrial Systems program when he found the apprenticeship opportunity on Indeed.com.
“This apprenticeship program is a real dream,” he said. “First and foremost, I am looking forward to learning in the pharmaceutical environment.”
These students will take a specialized selection of classes at Central Carolina from both the Industrial Systems Degree Program and Workforce Continuing Education as part of their full-time employment at Pfizer.
Once they have finished their on-the-job training at Pfizer and related college instruction, which will take place over several years, they will have completed a registered apprenticeship program with a journeyman’s certification in the maintenance field, earned a Central Carolina certificate, diploma, or degree, and advanced in their careers with Pfizer.
Craig Hardy is manager of Pfizer’s Logistics Maintenance and believes great benefits will result from the apprenticeship program.
“We anticipate achieving a higher employee retention rate, achieving a more diverse workforce, and a capable and skilled workforce that will replenish retiring colleagues. The apprentices learn specific trades and skills that will benefit the needs of our site,” Hardy said.
“We only started in January 2021, however, it has begun very well and we are extremely encouraged and pleased with the talent of our apprentices,” he said. “The apprentices are working in their fields with mentors and tracking their hours per Department of Labor requirements, and they are enrolled in classes at CCCC that meet the program requirements.”
Yang said he enjoys working with people who are experienced in this field and hearing the different stories about how they got to where they are.
“It inspires me to be better and gives me hope that one day I can have a fulfilling career,” he said.
“I have enjoyed learning all the aspects of maintenance while also meeting great people always willing to help,” Cox said.
Lewis said he enjoys working at Pfizer.
“There is an awesome culture here where people work together. And it is not just for show. They actually want to see the company and everyone else do well here,” he said.
Margaret Roberton, the college’s vice president for Workforce Development, says Central Carolina and Pfizer have a long relationship built on trust and collaboration.
“The college has been a partner in developing a successful Pfizer talent pipeline through customized training, program development, student recruitment and now registered apprentices,” she said. “Pfizer has provided the college the benefit of their insight, resources and leadership as we have worked together to support the community.”
The college has been a great partner in learning the needs of Pfizer, said Hardy, a nearly 19-year employee of the Sanford facility.
“They have provided classes on BioWork and Train the Trainer program that Pfizer has used. I would say that in our maintenance department, about 50% of those hired within the past five years have been graduates of the Industrial Maintenance programs at CCCC. They are currently working hard to ensure all courses needed for all instruction of the new apprenticeship program are taught or managed through CCCC.”
Registered apprenticeships are a collaborative workforce response that supports the student by providing an excellent opportunity for individuals to “earn and learn” and businesses that are working to develop their talent pipeline, according to Roberton.
“These experiences are uniquely defined by a company to address specific needs and roles while providing students a structure to develop high demand skills.
“CCCC is positioned to support businesses seeking to investigate the benefits of registered apprenticeships as well as those actively engaged in providing these experiences,” said Roberton. “The college can provide the related instruction defined by the business that is core to the apprenticeship and is developing the resources to support more businesses in successfully entering into apprenticeship arrangements.”
Roberton notes that in recognition of the value that registered apprenticeships can have for the development of a high-quality talent pipeline, CCCC is investing resources to be better positioned to support businesses seeking to explore the possibilities of apprenticeship programs.
“Christina Piard, director of Corporate Engagement, is working with ApprenticeshipNC and peer colleges to investigate ways for the college to provide additional resources including college sponsorship and the development of apprenticeship cohorts,” said Roberton.
Hardy is a proponent of the apprenticeship program.
“I feel that any business that wants to see benefits in their workforce, either current staff or potential staff for years to come, should consider the apprenticeship program. It is a great way to grow the existing talent they may have or bring in new talent that could provide years of positive returns for the company,” he said.
Companies interested in discussing an apprenticeship opportunity through Central Carolina Community College can contact Christina Piard, director of Corporate Outreach, at email@example.com or 919-718-7076.