BRATTLEBORO — The Windham Regional Career Center is rolling into the new year with a suite of new offerings that include studies in anatomy and physiology, entrepreneurship, mathematics and electronics.
“We have some great things happening in the career and technical education world, as we prepare students for high-demand jobs,” said Anne Doran, career center counselor. “We have hired two outstanding new health instructors, a new business teacher, an electrical trades instructor who is a licensed electrician and who has proudly just built a state-of-the-art electrical lab, and a new math instructor.”
Master electrician Bill Sevigny has been teaching electronics as an apprenticeship instructor for the New Hampshire Department of Labor. Until recently, he was the electrical supervisor at Keene State College in Keene, N.H., a position he held for more than two decades
PURCHASE PHOTOS“This has been a great trade for me,” said Sevigny, 55, about his career.
When the opportunity to teach high school students presented itself, he jumped right in, hoping to share his love for the trade.
“I had no idea I would love teaching as much as I do,” he said.
Sevigny developed a new program at the career center, targeted at students who are a little unsure of what they’d like to do upon graduation.
“A lot of my students, they learn differently,” he said. “They are very tactile ... very hands on.”
Students learn the basics of electronics but then go further, he said, to actual application of that knowledge.
“Most of what we are doing in the lab is residential-style wiring,” said Sevigny.
As they progress through the course, they move into commercial applications.
“The ultimate goal is to prepare students for an apprenticeship,” he said.
The program has an advisory board of local contractors who are in need of apprentices who want to work their way up to master electricians, said Sevigny.
“I have nine seniors in the program who really want to get into the trade,” he said. “I could easily place them. When they leave this program, they are able to generate income for their employers.”
It’s not just about filling a need in a career that is sorely lacking entry-level employees, he said, but also about seeing his students move into careers that are financially stable and can help them achieve their own dreams.
“By the end of 2024, in Vermont alone, we will be shy 3,000 electricians,” said Sevigny. “In New Hampshire, the number is about 10,000.”
The first step in becoming a master electrician is to complete an apprenticeship program that includes 144 hours of classroom instruction each year and 8,000 hours of on-the-job training, culminating in sitting for the Vermont Journeyman’s Licensure exam. Students spend most of their first year at the career center learning basic wiring skills and concepts, and might complete a small number of apprenticeship hours. Second-year students complete classroom hours and work toward completing over 500-hour apprenticeship hours.
This means any student taking the course at the career center has a leg up on someone entering an apprenticeship program on their own.
Sevigny said he already has contractors knocking at his door, asking if the students are ready to come to work.
After the completion of the two-year program at the career center, he said, the students can jump into an apprenticeship program with a starting wage of around $20 or more an hour. A master electrician can earn $50,000 or more a year.
Sevigny said he’s excited to be offering the program at the career center, but even more excited to show students they have a real opportunity to work in a career that pays well right out of high school.
“We want to see them succeed,” he said.