KNIGHTDALE, N.C. (WNCN) — Wake County Commissioners and Wake Tech kicked off National Apprenticeship Week on Monday with a celebration of their 100th employer involved in the WakeWorks Program

Outside the Tennie Group offices in Knightdale Monday, employees and commissioners congratulated Darrell Tennie, CEO of the Tennie Group as its 100th partner in the WakeWorks apprenticeship program. 

The program works in partnership between the county and Wake Tech to address the county’s shortage of technical workers.

“It gives our students and our residents of our county such a unique opportunity to learn and earn at the same time…and earn in the field of which they’re studying,” said Wake Tech President, Scott Ralls. 

Every year Wake County spends up to $500,000 to expand registered apprenticeship opportunities in skilled trades and technician programs where demand for workers is high.

Commissioner Matt Calabria says this particular program is important because as Wake County grows there’s a need for more skilled workers.

“We have a lack of skilled tradespeople and people in certain professions and that is critical not just for our businesses but for our consumers, our residents, “said Calabria. “For example, if you don’t have enough HVAC repair folks and it’s cold and your heat goes out, you don’t want to be waiting a month to have someone come out and repair it.”

Tennie is among 109 other employers that have partnered with the school.

He says over 20 students from Wake Tech have worked with him through the program.

“Current students of Wake Tech now are running our departments, traveling the country with me,” said Tennie. 

“In Wake County, it gives us the opportunity to allow the students to have that real world work experience.”

Tennie says the company recently established an office in Puerto Rico, something he credits Wake Tech students who came through this program for helping him with.