Pro Electric Inc. of Huntsville recently became the first company in North Alabama to sign up with Apprenticeship Alabama. Through the program, Pro Electric will employ and train workers with the skills the company requires, and will receive a tax credit through Apprenticeship Alabama for each participating apprentice.
The Alabama Department of Commerce officially launched Apprenticeship Alabama in January 2017. The program offers tax credits to companies that have a U.S. Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship program and hire qualified apprentices. Those apprentices receive classroom or industry-specific instruction and on-the-job training.
“We are thrilled to sign up Pro Electric as an Apprenticeship Alabama partner and that it is the first company in North Alabama to take advantage of the state tax credit and the many benefits of a registered apprenticeship program,” said Frank Chestnut, manager of Apprenticeship Alabama. “Not only will this help the company find, train and retain skilled workers, it’s also the beginning of what is likely to become a fulfilling career for these apprentices.”
Pro Electric is an electrical contractor specializing in commercial and industrial installation. Established in 1990, it works closely with the City of Huntsville to maintain the electrical systems for the city, including all municipal buildings, parks and ball fields lighting. The company also works with the Huntsville City School System to keep the electrical systems of all its school buildings, parking lots and ball field working properly. The company was awarded the electrical part of the project for the development of the newly redesigned Big Spring Park and is also working on the Brahan Spring Park upgrades.
“I would like to express our excitement in being part of the Apprenticeship Alabama program and all it offers,” said Gary Hillis, president of Pro Electric. “We take great interest in the future of those who are interested in advancing in the electrical industry. Pro Electric has had several employees continue to the state license requirement and obtain their master electrician status, and who have went on to guide and mentor our apprentices into becoming electricians.
“Because of this, the company has had the opportunity to promote employees to the project manager level with great success,” Hillis added. “With on-job training and the education the trade school offers, we hope to expand the future opportunities for all our employees.”
Pro Electric has five new enrollees in the apprenticeship program for the upcoming year and one entering his third apprenticeship year.
Through the Apprenticeship Alabama program, apprentices receive a progressive wage, giving them an “earn while you learn” training experience that specifically meets a company’s workforce needs. Upon completion of the program, the apprentice will have a transportable credential that will increase his or her wage earning potential.
The average wage for a fully proficient worker who completed an apprenticeship is approximately $50,000 a year. Apprentices who complete their program earn approximately $300,000 more over their career than non-apprenticeship participants.
Apprenticeship Alabama follows the U.S. Department of Labor guidelines for apprenticeships and focuses on five industry sectors targeted in the state’s strategic plan for growth, Accelerate Alabama. Those sectors are healthcare, construction/carpentry, information technology, distribution/transportation/logistics, and advance manufacturing.
An employer taking part in the program is allowed an income tax credit of up to $1,000 for each qualifying apprentice, and can claim a tax credit for up to five apprentices a year. Additionally, there are other federal and state funding resources that may benefit both the employer and employee.