The logo for the Maine Apprenticeship Program.  Submitted Photo

FARMINGTON — A new apprenticeship program at Foster Career and Technical Education Center in Farmington could mean a wave of young and eager high school graduates becoming skilled trade workers within a couple years of graduation.

Since January, Foster CTE Center has been developing a new program that would take advanced students that are enrolled in the program and get them into apprenticeship programs, which would put them on the path to a career within years of graduating high school.

Facilitated by an RFA grant from the Maine Department of Labor, FCTEC is one of two school-based career and technical education programs to receive grant funding for this program, with the other school being Somerset Career and Technical Center.

The program has FCTEC functioning as an intermediary for sponsors that set up apprenticeships sites and the students that are interested in developing their skillset in a particular trade. Currently, Kenway Composites, which is part of Creative Composites Group, is the first business to become a site for the program.

According to Director Melissa Williams, Kenway has had a long history of working with FCTEC in instructing their students and providing them with materials for projects.

“We’ve been working with Kenway since the beginning. They helped us start our composites program, so we’ve been working with them for years,” Williams stated.


Kaleb Hutchinson, front left, and Tyler Spugnardi, front right, sign their forms for apprenticeship on Wednesday, May 3, at Kenway Composites. Their teacher, Chris Demarco, back left, and their mentor at Kenway Greg Wilcox, back right, watch as they sign. Submitted Photo

Kaleb Hutchinson of Mt. Blue High School and Tyler Spugnardi of Spruce Mountain High School are the first two students to sign up for the apprenticeship program, which brought them to Kenway Composites on Wednesday, May 3, to officially begin their apprenticeship.

For now, they only attend every other school day based on what their schedule with FCTEC is, but once they graduate, they can begin working every day. Kenway Composites are thrilled about the program with Hutchinson and Spugnardi getting high praises.

“They’ve been doing wonderful,” Kenway Composites Human Resources and Safety Manager Cynthia Phelps said about the two boys. “The feedback from our seasoned employees has been really great. They’ve had a lot of good things to say about them.”

Other businesses, such as HospitalityMaine, RLH Enterprises, and Hannaford have expressed interest in getting involved with the program. Jordan McMullen, apprenticeship navigator at FCTEC, says she wants to grow the program at a steady and sustainable pace that allows FCTEC to continue to help the students as they transition into the apprenticeship program, even after they graduate.

On the learning side of things, McMullen turns things over to Shaun St. Germain, who is hands on with helping the students with anything they may need to succeed in their apprenticeship, like math or reading blueprints.

For Williams, the program is something that she wants to keep going even after the grant ends in December of 2024, and the DOL is on board trying to keep it going.

“The Department of Labor is really invested in this program,” she said. “We have monthly meetings with them, we have trainings, so they’re also supporting these sites for us.”

“The Department of Labor has really stepped up to really embrace this apprentice and pre-apprenticeship,” she added.

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