At Tesla’s Gigafactory 1 in Sparks, Nevada, local high school graduates have had the opportunity since 2017 to participate in two-year apprenticeships hosted by the electric vehicle manufacturer. As the program heads into its third year, the company is searching for 50-60 juniors and seniors to take part in the full-time hours, full-time benefits opportunity combining hands-on manufacturing job training with personal development support. Tesla has a history of investing in its local communities, making this program yet another nod to their commitment to embracing those supporting their mission of driving towards a sustainable energy future.
High school graduates in the program will primarily learn to build electric batteries and motors for Tesla’s product lines, but also included in the Reno Gigafactory apprenticeship is a 20-credit educational program through Truckee Meadows Community College, a local school. Additionally, personal and financial development classes and workshops are offered as well as reserved housing, all at the pay rate of $17 per hour with full employee benefits. The hours at the factory accommodate the educational schedule – each week alternating three 12-hour shifts and four 10-hour shifts.
There’s no guarantee of a permanent Tesla job at the end of the program, but according to Chris Reilly, head of workforce development and education programs at Tesla, several students from the completed programs have already been hired. Also, the skills acquired provide students with the ability to continue growing in similar industries or vocations. In 2018, 54 Nevada students were selected to participate.
The Gigafactory 1 apprenticeship program began as a pilot in 2017 wherein 13 high school graduates were brought on board to participate. Vocational robotics programs at a Las Vegas technical school inspired the concept, and Tesla has since turned their program model into a framework for others in the manufacturing industry to use as an example. Overall, it’s a win-win for both students and companies – job skills and development in exchange for a potential source of a ready-trained workforce. “The thought was: As we grow from a small team out in Northern Nevada to thousands of employees, how do we build sustainable pipelines,” Reilly explained to a local reporter during an informational session hosted at Las Vegas High School last week.
The process of participating in Tesla’s apprenticeship seems fairly straight forward: Students apply as juniors and seniors, tour the Gigafactory, and then split off into two groups – juniors take resume-writing workshops and seniors are interviewed for positions in the program. If selected for the program, graduating seniors move into Tesla-reserved housing in the Reno area and begin.
The apprenticeship program isn’t Tesla’s first investment into Nevada’s student population – the carmaker has pledged to donate $37.5 million dollars to Nevada schools as part of a Gigafactory Incentive Deal. An initial grant of $1.5 million for K-12 programs went out last summer to FIRST Nevada, a robotics and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics) focused non-profit, and the Robotics Education and Competition Foundation, an initiative to enable schools to establish premier robotics programs, among other technology-focused educational efforts. In early 2018, Gigafactory 1 hosted local 6th grade students for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, an initiative aiming to foster and support the interest of young women in the engineering field.