UT’s Reeves Takes Community Outreach to the Next Level with Apprenticeship Program

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is actively involved in community outreach, and UT Knoxville student and heating and air technician Barry Reeves is taking this idea to the next level. Reeves received the 2009 Chancellor’s Honors Award for Extraordinary Service to the University for creating an apprenticeship with UT Facilities Services.

The award took Reeves by surprise, but his three-phase apprenticeship program is helping people who want a career in a particular trade to receive on-the-job experience.

In cooperation with the Knoxville Area Urban League and the Lincoln Park High School Technology Center, the apprenticeship program helps would-be technicians gain experience in the electrical, plumbing, heating, and air trades.

Reeves said he thinks the year-old program is off to a great start. They had over 100 applicants this year.
“I put the program together. It’s a great pilot program,” Reeves said. “The beauty of it is we had a successful run.”

Alan Chesney, executive director of UT’s Human Resources Office, nominated Reeves for the Chancellor’s Honors Award. Chesney had the vision for the program and Reeves put it together. The program is designed for anyone – from UT employees to at-risk youth from the Urban League – who want a career as a crafts worker.

“Most of our applicants choose the apprenticeship in lieu of going to college,” Reeves said.

Reeves, as a part of the committee that chooses apprentices, screens and interviews the candidates. The superintendent of each specific shop ultimately makes the decision on who qualifies for each position.

The accepted apprentice is assigned a worker, and he or she shadows that worker. This includes reporting to the office or shop, clocking in, and going out on the job site. As time progresses, the worker allows the apprentice to get actual hands-on experience. Also, the apprentice must attend a four-hour class once a week at Lincoln Park.

Reeves recognizes that a program like this is in demand in Knoxville. “There is a pool of applicants that are overlooked for this field,” Reeves said. “There is a need. We have an older work force at Facilities Services. We’ve always had an issue with recruiting younger folks to the university.” He sees this as a great way to get the word out.

As a graduating undergraduate in UT’s College of Business Administration, studying human resources, Reeves is happy he had the opportunity to create a program to help people. He said this was a great opportunity to combine what he’s learning in the classroom with the real world activities. He also plans to attend graduate school.

“This program is going to be mainstream,” Reeves said. “I believe we are a little more cutting-edge and innovative in doing this. I’m excited to get it out there.”

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