Lockheed Martin Honors First Philadelphia Grads to Complete Innovative IT Apprenticeship Program
PHILADELPHIA, PA., 02/07/2005 -- When Ducrae Clements first heard about a new information technology apprenticeship program from a teacher at Mastbaum Vocational-Technical School in late 2001, he was interested, but not immediately sold on the idea.
The program, he was told, would provide three years of IT training, a paycheck and the opportunity to launch a career in IT at Lockheed Martin. But it would also present significant challenges. Chief among them ― Clements would have to complete not only his normal schoolwork, but program work, as well.
“After several talks with school teachers and my mother, I reached the decision that this was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” said Clements. “When I finally got into the program, I quickly realized that I had made the right decision.”
That decision paid off Jan. 27 as Clements and 12 other high school graduates from Mastbaum and Kensington high schools were recognized for completing Lockheed Martin’s three-year IT apprenticeship program. During a ceremony at the Union League of Philadelphia, the graduates received their certifications as information technology technicians from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, and they were congratulated by their colleagues and mentors at Lockheed Martin, administrators from the School District of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Youth Network, and their parents.
“We are motivated to attract young people to technical programs and careers,” said Stan Sloane, Lockheed Martin executive vice president. “The IT apprenticeship program accomplishes this and develops talent that will help us succeed in the future. The fact that these students were able to make this a success means that we will continue this program.”
The IT apprenticeship program was developed in 2001 in cooperation with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Youth Network. Its goals are to provide inner-city youth with viable career opportunities and to help Lockheed Martin satisfy its demand for skilled IT professionals. Spurred by the local program’s success, the company recently started a similar program that reaches out to Native American students in Arizona and is considering additional programs in other regions of the country, said Sloane.
The program involves more than 3,000 hours of on-the-job training and rotational assignments within the business and more than 1,000 hours of formal instruction. While earning a paycheck, apprentices receive training at Lockheed Martin’s King of Prussia facility one day a week as juniors, four days a week in the summer before their senior year, two days a week as seniors, and full-time after graduation.
Upon graduating from high school, they are eligible for full-time employment with Lockheed Martin and have an opportunity to further their education and career. A recent agreement between Penn State University and Bucks County Community College offers program participants the opportunity to pursue an associate degree in computer and information science from Bucks County Community College and apply those credits toward the pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in information sciences and technology from Penn State.
Under the agreement, degree classes will be offered at Lockheed Martin’s King of Prussia campus. Lockheed Martin will provide full tuition reimbursement to graduates and apprentices who have completed the first half of the apprenticeship program.
“Being a technician requires a lot of responsibility and dedication,” Clements told the audience at the Jan. 27 event. “It is very demanding, but that’s exactly why I’m excited every day I go to work.” Those sentiments were echoed by fellow graduates, who joined Clements in thanking the program’s supporters.
“The courses that I completed here are unlike any other that I received in high school or the college that I currently attend,” said Crystal Rice. “My computer skills have grown tremendously since I began the program, and I can truly say that I am competent enough to further my career.” Added fellow graduate Robert Marmon, “From the start of this program in January 2002 to the end, this program has dramatically changed my life, and I am grateful for this opportunity. As we stand here today, I would just like you to know that this is not the end … just a new beginning.”
In addition to Marmon, Rice and Clements, the following individuals were honored for completing the program: Brandy Carrero, Deron Smith, Jason Cortez, Michael Williams, Roberto Ortiz, Ronald Kee, Tarah Foreman-Scruggs, Xavier Arroyo, Yagen Mederos, and Zakerria Frasier.
An additional 42 students and graduates from Mastbaum, Kensington, William Penn and University City high schools are currently participating in the program.