Campus News

First two apprentices graduate from Physical Plant program

The first two graduates of the Physical Plant’s apprenticeship program were recently certified by the U.S. Department of Labor and now have been promoted to permanent positions at Physical Plant. Alan Pannell and Chris Whitehead received their certificates in late October.

Physical Plant administrators introduced the program in 2006 in response to a recognized need for succession planning. The vast majority of Physical Plant’s staff members in some trade areas-e.g. heating and ventilation, automotive and carpentry-have more than 20 years of experience. Thus, competent replacements will be needed to fill vacancies.

“The program demonstrates yet another way that the university is engaged in the effort to improve opportunities for the workforce in the Athens area,” said Tim Burgess, senior vice president for finance and administration, the division where Physical Plant is based.

Offered in concert with Athens Technical College, the apprenticeship program provides comprehensive classroom and on-the-job training to a select group of participants. The apprentices have regular UGA job descriptions (for example, apprentice I, II, III or IV). When they complete the program, they are promoted to “journey” status as an HVAC mechanic, auto mechanic, or carpenter under UGA’s current certification from the labor department.

Following completion of all required training, including receipt of certification from Athens Tech, the apprentices petition for a certificate of completion from the labor department. Once obtained, they are eligible for promotion.

“Apprenticeships are considered priority programs for workforce development because of the generally high placement potential for those who complete the program,” said Reginald Woods, senior human resources manager for the Physical Plant. “We hope to accept two new HVAC apprentices in January and, if all goes as planned, we’ll add programs for plumbers and electricians in fiscal year 2010.”

Anyone interested in applying for the apprenticeship program should contact Woods at