Free training, paid employment through St. Louis apprenticeship program

Free on-the-job training and paid wages. Sound too good to be true?

The above scenario can become a reality through an apprenticeship program offered by the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE).

“I didn’t know how to get into this industry in this city. And thanks to SLATE, I’m in,” St. Louis resident Nathaniel Jackson said.

Jackson is taking part in Explore St. Louis’ Entertainment Apprenticeship Program. The three-year program is giving him hands-on training in an industry that plays to his skills.

“In a nutshell, I set up and tear down conventions. I also help set up and tear down concerts when they come to St. Louis,” Jackson said. “The last concert I did I tore down the Metallica concert, which was down at Busch Stadium. Quite an education.”

The agency is connecting participants with apprenticeships provided through grants from the U.S. Department of Labor.

“The kind of people that we’re really looking for are people who are unemployed. Underemployed. Those persons who don’t have skills. So, we can just put them in the program, and get them the training that they need,” SLATE Apprenticeship Training Coordinator Gino Austin said.

Three-year programs are offered in a variety of fields, including health care, automotive and advanced manufacturing, information technology, cybersecurity and coding, early childhood education, construction, and customer service.

Programs are “earn as you learn,” Austin said.

“While you’re in training, you’re actually get paid a wage,” he said.

Applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. Have a GED/high school diploma,
  2. Be 18 or older
  3. Pass a background check and drug test (for some programs), pass the WorkKeys assessment (academic assessments in math, reading and locating information)
  4. Live in St. Louis City or County and in Illinois-Madison and St. Clair counties

“It’s not like they have to bring anything with them. They just have to have the desire to do the work,” Austin said.