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US Labor Secretary Pushes $100 Million In Apprenticeship Grants

Buhler Aeroglide
Leoneda Inge

US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez was in Cary this week pushing the government’s new $100 million Apprenticeship Grants program.

Secretary Perez stopped by Buhler Aeroglide.  It makes large conveyor dryers for companies like Kellogg’s.  He praised Buhler for being a worldwide leader in training and hiring apprentices.

“We are all recognizing that we need to lift up apprenticeship, not only in the traditional skilled trades, as we see here, but in IT, Cyber Security, in Health Care," said Perez, after touring the manufacturing facility.

Buhler officials say they have approximately 600 apprentices worldwide.  And they hire many of them, calling apprentices "loyal employees."

Mason Hurlbut is one of three apprentices at the Cary facility.  He’s an 18-year-old senior at Fuquay-Varina High School.

“When I came to this company I just fell in love.  I always worked with my hands it’s got everything I want to do welding, fabrication, assembly all that stuff," said Hurlbut.

Hurlbut works five days a week for four hours a day making $9 an hour.  He says he is up for an evaluation and may get a raise.

Perez says companies like Buhler are ahead of the game because of how it trains young people, as early as high school.

“This is an economic imperative.  This is how we are going to grow our economy.  I refer to apprenticeship as the other college, except without the debt," said Perez.

The deadline for organizations, business groups and community colleges to apply for the multi-million dollar apprenticeship grants is April 30.

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
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