Vale Price Jr., Warehouse Associate III, works at Stanton Energy Center.

“You get what you put into it” is how Vale Price Jr. sums up his experience as member of the inaugural graduating class of a new jobs training program sponsored by OUC.

What Price and 10 other young graduates put into the Vocational Training Partnership was 420 hours of pre-apprenticeship training in such trade skills as construction, carpentry, electrical, plumbing and building maintenance. What the grads got out of the program were offers of full-time jobs with benefits and prospective employers’ commitments to continue their development as apprentices.

Vale Price Jr. graduated from the inaugural pre-apprenticeship training class in October 2021.

A top-performer in the program, Price was hired by OUC in December 2021 as a Warehouse Associate III working at Stanton Energy Center (SEC). In the entry-level position, Price processes deliveries of machinery, chemicals and other materials that are essential to the power plant’s operations. He also delivers materials to on-site facilities.

Price feels lucky that he found out about the pre-apprenticeship class. He was working in janitorial services and event support at Frontline Outreach Sports Center off John Young Parkway in 2021 when his boss suggested he look into a new workforce development program that would be held there. Here was Price’s chance to get a better-paying job with long-term career growth.

OUC’s sponsorship of the jobs training school covered student tuition and other costs, including the instructor’s salary. All Price had to do was show up for class and work hard at learning trade skills.

“I didn’t gravitate toward one specific skill. I liked them all,” he says. “The class also taught me a lot of real-life lessons, instilling in me a sense of responsibility. It taught me to take accountability for my actions, and it gave me a sense of awareness of different fields that I could step into.”

After graduating on Oct. 27, 2021, Price decided to accept OUC’s job offer because “it seemed like a good company and offered the best opportunities.” Since joining the Stanton warehouse team, he has earned certifications in forklift driving and plans to get a commercial driver’s license so he can deliver materials to other OUC locations. For now, his career goal is to excel in his job and keep his eyes open for opportunities.

Warehouse Supervisor Ron Schneider says Price “comes to work with an open mind and he’s willing to learn. He asks a lot of questions. The pre-apprenticeship program definitely prepared him. Once he learns our processes, the door is wide open. He’s a bright guy.”

In partnership with iBuild Central Florida, OUC is sponsoring the 2022 pre-apprenticeship training program beginning in June. iBuild is a nonprofit dedicated to preparing young men and women to work in construction-related fields. OUC will pay the tuitions for up to 16 participants.

Click here for more information on the program.

The workforce development program is an initiative of OUC’s Empowerment Zone, an economically disadvantaged area covering the 32805 ZIP code (I-4 west to John Young Parkway and Colonial Drive south to Kaley Avenue). Through targeted investments, OUC seeks to help revitalize the community.

“I would 100% recommend the class for whoever may be looking to get into construction or electrical,” says Price. “You have to be willing and ready to learn and work. You’ll get out of the class what you put into it.”