LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — This week is National Apprenticeship Week, a chance for the country to highlight programs that offer other options to start a career without a college degree.

“I think apprenticeship is the way to go versus college,” said Matt Bishop, a 4th-year apprentice with the Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union #452. When he first started his career hunt, Bishop found a passion for welding. He followed the traditional path and went to college but soon life threw hurdles in his way

“My wife was diagnosed with (multiple sclerosis), a little before I actually got into college,” Bishop said. “I accrued $45,000 a semester, and you don’t have that expense when you get into an apprenticeship.”

He applied for the Plumbers and Pipefitters Union in the hope of bringing in some extra income and securing some health benefits. Instead, he found a different path to his career.

“It takes you to the next level, the apprenticeship it gives you an opportunity to get out and work and learn at the same time,” Bishop said.

“Apprenticeship is generally low cost or no cost for the student it allows them classroom hours but also on the job training so they’re earning money while they’re learning, and once they get their certificate they virtually have no debt at all so that first paycheck goes into their pocket,” Secretary of the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet Jamie Link told FOX 56. Link said this can be an option for people who aren’t ready or don’t want to go to college, but want a stable career that can afford to put dinner on the table.


    “Trades like nursing dental hygiene welding auto mechanics heavy diesel mechanics, things like that while they are still in high school and once they graduate high school they can go into that apprenticeship program and start earning money and getting more intensive classroom and on the job training,” Link said.

    “Earning a wage while you’re learning is a big benefit, but It’s the knowledge of the instructors that do the job every day that’s beneficial as well,” Bishop said.

    In a year’s time, Bishop will complete his apprenticeship to become a journeyman, and he’s on his way to becoming a foreman that manages other workers. To learn more about apprenticeships the cabinet has just launched a new website, kyworks.ky.gov.