Skilled trades apprentices showcase their talents at North Carolina State Fair

Beyond the funnel cakes, Ferris wheels, and farm animals, North Carolina State Fairgoers gathered on bleachers to watch more than 100 skilled trades apprentices compete in apprenticeship contests over the course of five days. The North Carolina Community College System and ApprenticeshipNC hosted its annual apprentice contests to provide a platform for apprentices to showcase their talents and raise awareness of apprenticeships in the community. This was the 69th year of apprenticeship contests at the fair.

“It’s a wonderful week to publicly show the budding talent and workforce readiness that apprentices bring to employers,” said John Loyack, Vice President of Economic Development for the North Carolina Community College System. Hosted in partnership with the N.C. Department of Agriculture, apprentices competed in masonry, electrical, carpentry, HVAC-R, and plumbing contests. The competitions were sponsored by local industry partners and winners below received cash prizes and tools.

· Masonry Apprentice Contest Winner: Cade Huntley, Huntley Brothers Co.
· Electrical Apprentice Contest Winner: Connor O’Brien, Starr Electric Co.
· Carpentry Pre-Apprentice Contest Winners: Caleb Nelson & Tyler Douglas, Bunn HS
· Plumbing Apprentice Contest Winner: Tyler Yennie, Mechanical Trades Carolina
· HVAC-R Apprentice Contest Winner: Luis Diaz, Mechanical Trades Carolina

ApprenticeshipNC elevates workforce development efforts by connecting with employers across the state, in all 100 counties, to develop registered apprenticeship programs, which average 1-3 years. Apprentices are paid during the program and receive on-the-job training and formalized classroom instruction. They also earn certifications, industry specific credentials, and, depending on their program, college degrees.

“Apprenticeships are employer led and solidify the importance of developing a strong, skilled, prepared workforce, allowing North Carolina to attract business and industry as well as people
to our state,” Loyack said. As more baby boomers retire, the demand for skilled workers to replace them continues to grow. The contests help make that connection between apprentices and employers, as competitors have the opportunity to network and impress employers in attendance.

“Apprenticeships are important because they will sustain the future of our trade and the trades that feed, clothe, and light America,” said Ray Erickson, an electrical apprentice. “If you don’t have tradesmen in position to take on from the next generation, then you’re going to eventually retire out all your highly knowledgeable trades.”

To learn more about apprenticeship opportunities, visit

(L to R): Lisa Estep, Margaret Spainhour, John Loyack, Ann Whitford, Amy Davis-Moore


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