Highlights is a 30 minute weekly TV show featuring organizations, events, grass-roots efforts and people who move our state and community forward in a positive way.
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The show taped and premiering at 8:30 p.m. on December 19, 2022 features the Blenko Glass Factory and their Apprenticeship Program.
We interviewed Dean Six, VP, Blenko Glass, Alex Burdette, Apprentice, Blenko Glass and Dave Lavender, Apprenticeships Programs for WV Department of Economic Development.
Dean talked about the rich 129 year history of Blenko Glass. Through the years there have been over 400 glass factories throughout WV, now only about four operating.
Over the past year, Blenko Glass has been working with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship and the West Virginia Department of Economic Development to build and implement the first registered Glass Worker Apprenticeship in West Virginia.
To celebrate this program the world-famous Blenko Glass in Milton, where they have been in operation since 1921, has been telling their story as often as possible.
Alex discussed his experience as an apprentice and the Blenko Apprentice Program. He has been on the apprenticeship journey for 3 years.
The Glass Worker Apprenticeship consists of a blend of on-the-job training by Blenko Glass’ master craftsmen, as well as additional, classroom instruction from a veteran glass artist and instructor who has been an artist-in-residence and instructor at the Corning Museum of Glass. The instructor has also worked around the world with numerous master glassmakers.
“The apprentice program at Blenko is critical to our mission of preserving West Virginia’s glassmaking history,” said Dave Wertz, Site Operations Director at Blenko Glass. “Without a constant stream of well trained apprentice glassworkers we are at risk of simply being snuffed out of the trade entirely.”
This new registered apprenticeship was announced during the 8th annual National Apprenticeship Week (NAW) that took place Nov. 14-18, 2022. NAW is being held this year in honor of the 85th Anniversary of the National Apprenticeship Act.
More Information about the Program
If you would like to learn more about the Apprentice Program at Blenko, contact Allyssa Covert, HR Director at ACovert@Blenko.com or 304-743-9081.
NAW is a nationwide celebration where industry, labor, equity, workforce, education, and government leaders host nearly 1,000 events showcasing the value of Registered Apprenticeship for re-building our economy, advancing racial and gender equity, and supporting underserved communities.
The learn-and-earn model Apprenticeship is an industry-driven, high-quality career pathway where employers develop their future workforce, and individuals obtain paid work experience, classroom instruction and a nationally-recognized portable certificate for that occupation. Currently, there are 600,000 active apprentices in the United States. Thriving tech companies such as Amazon, Google, Intuit and IBM all have robust apprenticeship programs giving an increasing number of people a career pathway.
In West Virginia, which ranks 5th in the nation for apprenticeships per capita, there are now more than 5,000 active apprentices. While many WV apprentices are in skilled trades, there are also many apprenticeships in emerging sectors from IT and aerospace to brewing, healthcare, and meat cutting. West Virginia was the second state to implement a teachers apprenticeship called Grow Your Own, a trend now developing around the country to address teacher shortages.
Apprenticeships, which can be union or non-union, can be found in all industries, such as clean energy, cybersecurity, healthcare, information technology, financial services, childcare, transportation, engineering, and Advanced Manufacturing. Since Registered Apprenticeship is a flexible model, programs can be customized to meet the needs of every business and industry.
WV Department of Economic Development
We talked with Dave Lavender of the WV Economic & Development Office about the apprectice program in the state of West Virginia.
Dave discussed the details of WV’s apprenticeships and how it is funded.
Registered Apprenticeships provide a path for all qualified individuals, including women, youth, people of color, rural communities, justice-involved individuals and people with disabilities, to become apprentices and contribute to America’s industries.
“We love being able to help fuel part of this new apprenticeship program that’s passing down invaluable glassmaking knowledge from Blenko’s master craftsmen while also giving apprentices this unique and debt-free career pathway to the magical ancient craft of glassmaking,” added Dave Lavender, of the Apprenticeship in Motion program with the WV Department of Economic Development. “Blenko Glass is a beloved West Virginia heirloom, family-owned company with an aging workforce, like many Mountain State companies. So we love being able to help stabilize and strengthen their workforce,scaling-up a new generation of artisans to carry on the world-renowned artistry for decades to come.”
Wertz said they appreciate the funding and the technical assistance from the US DOL Office of Apprenticeship rep, Karen Wade, who helped Blenko register their program.
If you would like to learn more about the Highlights TV Show, contact Host and Executive Producer Jim Strawn at 304-541-4756.