Business Elevated Podcast (Episode 25)
This podcast series features business and government leaders discussing what it’s like to live and work in the great state of Utah. This episode includes a conversation between Scott Romney, program manager at Talent Ready Utah, and Ian Eggleston, a student at West High School and TRAC apprentice at Stadler Rail.
The Business Elevated podcast is also available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.
Welcome to the Business Elevated Podcast, where we discuss what it’s like to live and work in the great state of Utah. Did you know Utah is frequently ranked the best state for business by Forbes? This podcast is a production of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Thanks for joining the conversation.
Scott Romney (0:22): Hello, hello and welcome to the Business Elevated podcast. My name is Scott Romney and I’m the program manager at Talent Ready Utah. I’m really excited today because we have a special guest on the show. We have a young man named Ian Eggleston on our show today, and he’s here to talk to us a little bit about youth apprenticeship. So, welcome to the show. How are you doing, Ian?
Ian Eggleston (0:40): I’m doing pretty good. I’m happy to be here, happy to talk.
Scott Romney (0:45): Perfect. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today. Can you tell us just a little bit about yourself, like where you’re from, where you go to school, what you like to do?
Ian Eggleston (0:52): I’m from Utah, from Bountiful, and I go to West High School. I’m in this youth apprenticeship program, so I’m working one day and I’m going to school the other day, and the rest of my time I’m just hanging out, building robots, riding my bike and stuff like that.
Scott Romney (1:07): Just hanging out and building robots.
Ian Eggleston (1:08): Just hanging out, building robots, no big deal.
Scott Romney (1:10): Talent Ready Utah has been working with Salt Lake Community College, Salt Lake School District and Stadler Rail to help develop an apprenticeship program where we hosted an event to expose students at the high schools to this opportunity. Ian attended that event. At that event he was introduced to the application process that Stadler runs to help select the apprentices that get placed inside their company as part-time employees.
Can you tell us a little bit about what a normal day as an apprentice looks like at Stadler?
Ian Eggleston (1:42): At Stadler, our normal day, so we first go to our school that we go to, either West High School, Highland High School or East High School, and then there’s a bus that will take us to the community college. Then there’s a bus that takes us from there out to Stadler. We normally clock-in at about 8:30 a.m. each day. There’s always a break at 9:00. You go back to work, then there’s lunch and then you just go home. After lunch you have to work again. The bus will take you back to your home school.
What we normally do while out there is, it just sort of depends. The apprenticeship is broken up into two different sections. There’s the electrical side and the mechanical side of it. The mechanical side is working on the car bodies, the trucks, bondage, gluing stuff together and things like that. The electrical side is all the electronics, running wires, building cables, connecting panels and stuff like that.
Scott Romney (2:37): Do you have one that you like better? I mean you work with robots, is electrical your gig?
Ian Eggleston (2:43): I am on the electrical side. We don’t switch between those two. In each subdivision of that, there’s different things that we do. In the electrical there’s cable building, cable cutting, cable inlet, panel wiring, panel assembly and stuff like that. Same thing for mechanical. I just don’t know them all because I’m not part of it.
Scott Romney (2:59): Sure.
Ian Eggleston (3:00): It just depends. I think we swap in between departments every two months. I started out doing cable assembly, building cables. You would get a schematic that had build materials on and then we’d build the cable. I was in the cable inlet, which is running the cables. That was really fun because you get to go across the entire car body of a train with a big long cable. There’s a map. It maps out all the channels in the train and it’s really cool to see. Right now, I’m in panel wiring. Recently, I’ve been assembling a panel, or I guess modifying a panel,and making sure that it works correctly.
Scott Romney (3:47): That’s so awesome. So it’s not just like you’re watching people do these things, you’re getting your hands dirty and you’re getting some real work experience.
Ian Eggleston (3:53): Yeah. That’s one of the things that I really like about this program is that we’re actually doing work that matters for the train. That a normal employee would be doing. We aren’t super supervised. It’s more of just within each department, you’re not really ever watched. It doesn’t really feel like that. It mostly feels like you have the freedom to do what you need to do. But if you need to ask for help, that’s always a possibility and an option and that’s really nice.
Scott Romney (4:25): Sure. And you’re just an important part of the team.
Ian Eggleston (4:29): Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’re a part of the team.
Scott Romney (4:31): That’s awesome. That’s really awesome. A lot of people will hear the word apprenticeship and think that that means that you’re focusing on your career instead of getting an education, or something along those lines. Based on your experience, what do you say to people that have that perception?
Ian Eggleston (4:52): You can take it either way. Right? I think it is a valid option for people who don’t want to pursue higher education as a leap into a standing career. It’s also an option to leap into higher education. Right? I think it depends on how you look at it and how you approach it. I approach this apprenticeship program with the idea of it giving me a launching point into higher education. I know that some of the apprentices have definitely looked at it as a way to jump into a career.
Scott Romney (5:26): It’s kind of an on-ramp into doing the specialization that you are interested in and want to be involved in.
Ian Eggleston (5:31): Yeah, yeah. It can go either way. It just depends on what you want it to be.
Scott Romney (5:37): I know that you’ve been part of some other educational programs before when you were in high school. How does this apprenticeship program differ from the other projects that you worked on?
Ian Eggleston (5:46): I was in the ELP program at West High School, seventh and eighth graders. It’s an advanced program. That brought me into the AP/IB program, an advanced pre-college option. Both of those, they’re always more academically focused. That’s how it’s been. With the apprenticeship program, it’s been a lot more work focused. But not to say that it’s not only work. There’s the education aspect to it.
What I’m trying to say here really is that everything that I’ve done before has always been like you’re going to college, you’re doing that and there’s no other option. Right? The apprenticeship program really is like here’s another option. It’s a more practical hands-on applied way to education. I really like that, because throughout being at Stadler, I’ve learned that I like to work with my hands a lot more than I like to read books and stuff.
Scott Romney (6:49): It felt like a good fit once you were there.
Ian Eggleston (6:51): It felt like a good fit, yeah.
Scott Romney (6:52): Was it obvious that that was a good path for you when you started? Or, how did you make the decision to get more involved with the apprenticeship?
Ian Eggleston (6:59): I was looking at what I was doing in IB, AP/IB stuff. It’s academically rigorous and hard. I thought to myself, I heard about this program and I was like, “An apprenticeship that takes me through college. I get two years of college paid for and done with a degree that I can use.” That in itself made me think, I was like, “That just seems like a lot better and safer of an option than gambling with trying to win scholarships or pay for college myself.” Because debt is a very daunting thing to think about. For me, it was like a security option. I was like, “This just seems like a safer, more secure option to education.”
Scott Romney (7:44): Sure. And you’re hired on as a part-time employee right now, so you’re getting a wage and you’re earning while you’re learning. Is that right?
Ian Eggleston (7:51): Yeah. That’s true.
Scott Romney (7:53): Great. Well, so before you started working at a train factory, did you have an image of what it might look like working in that type of facility or workplace? Has that changed at all since you’ve been working as an apprentice?
Ian Eggleston (8:09): I didn’t really have an idea in my head and what it would look like before. The whole process of learning about the apprenticeship was all very fast. I heard about it, applied and then we went and saw the place. There wasn’t really a large amount of time for me to think about what it would look like. I just really saw it firsthand.
I sort of have an idea of a train factory. You think it is a very industrialized, dirty and messy place. Stadler just really isn’t that. It’s all very clean and maintained. Well maintained facility.
Scott Romney (8:52): So a good bright working facility.
Ian Eggleston (8:54): Yeah, yeah.
Scott Romney (8:55): I’ve been over there one time and I thought it looked almost like an IKEA.
Ian Eggleston (8:59): Yeah.
Scott Romney (9:00): Because it’s all brand new, it has a bunch of really cool, hip furniture, office space and workplace. It’s really cool to be able to see each of those. The train cars that you work on just lined up in that big factory and in that big facility. You see them being prepared and then shipped out on the rails. It has to be a pretty cool thing.
Ian Eggleston (9:18): I think my favorite thing about that is that you see the entire process. You can see it in the stages that it’s happened. Because some car bodies are way more complete than others, but they’re all just lined up there. Then you have the test track that has the “finely built thing.” So it’s really cool to see that process mapped out and lined out.
Scott Romney (9:38): Yeah. And be able to point to it and say, “Hey, I put in the… “
Ian Eggleston (9:40): Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s a really cool feeling too.
Scott Romney (9:43): That’s awesome. So what’s your favorite part about working at Stadler?
Ian Eggleston (9:47): I think one of my favorite parts is that you’re actually a part of the team. You’re actually doing real work that matters, because I feel like there’s a lot of things that are like, “Oh, you’re just a dumb kid. You don’t really know what you’re doing.” At Stadler, they put the trust in you to be able to do real work. I think that that’s really cool.
Scott Romney (10:05): That’s awesome. So you feel valued and feel like they can rely on you sometimes.
Ian Eggleston (10:10): Yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure.
Scott Romney (10:13): Ian was one of 16 new apprentices that started in the initial cohort for this apprenticeship program.
You are a part of the initial cohort, the first pilot program for this apprenticeship program. Not just for Stadler but for the whole state.
Ian Eggleston (10:27): Yeah.
Scott Romney (10:28): It’s cool being able to get that first-hand experience and see what alterations need to be made in the program. Help give that advice and the feedback so they can continue this and add some more students next year. Let’s say that I am a high school student and I want to get started in the TRAC program. What can I do to help get prepared?
Ian Eggleston (10:49): I would say go and talk to your CTE coordinator. They have a bunch of the information about visits, stuff like that. If you don’t want to talk to them, you can, at least West, Highland or East, we’re all spread out throughout there. If you know who’s in it [the apprenticeship program], then you can go and talk to them. They are very knowledgeable. I would really recommend going and talking to your CTE counselor. They have all the information.
Scott Romney (11:16): We are really proud of the model set up by Stadler to host youth apprentices starting in high school, and we are actively seeking new partners to start expanding this program. Not just to manufacturing, but to all kinds of industry. This is the Swiss model of apprenticeship which, in Switzerland, is used for finance, hospitality, manufacturing and for all the different careers that drive their economy. We are interested in creating programs to help match those demands inside of Utah.
If you’re a business or education partner interested in getting involved in the youth apprenticeship program, please contact me, Scott Romney, at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be happy to answer any questions you have about how to get started.
It’s cool that you found something that you like doing right now. You’ve been able to get your foot in the door when you’re in high school with this career. When you think about the future, what does it look like to you after the apprenticeship?
Ian Eggleston (12:16): I went into the apprenticeship with the idea that I was going to pursue college after it and go back to university. For me, it’s probably working on a bigger degree with help from Stadler. But if not, then figuring that out. I went into it with the idea of higher education, not with the idea of building a career.
Scott Romney (12:42): Sure.
Ian Eggleston (12:42): I guess saying that building a career out of education, but not initially a career.
Scott Romney (12:49): And does Stadler have a tuition assistance program that they’ve plugged you into?
Ian Eggleston (12:53): Yes, they do. I haven’t been plugged in yet. That’ll happen when the time comes, but it’ll just happen eventually.
Scott Romney (13:01): Cool. And let you get the level of education that you were hoping for.
Ian Eggleston (13:06): That I’m seeking.
Scott Romney (13:07): Awesome. Is there any other advice that you can give to students who might be interested in getting involved or seeking a career in train manufacturing?
Ian Eggleston (13:15): If you have the slightest bit of interest at all, and you’re a student, I would really recommend going and learning more and seeing it for yourself. Because talking about it is all right, but seeing it in action and how it works is a lot cooler. Any student looking for it now has the opportunity to see it. All of us in the first apprenticeship sort of went in blind. That’s how I like to say it.
Scott Romney (13:42): Sure.
Ian Eggleston (13:43): We sort of all went in blind. There’s a lot more information you can actually see how it works now. I’d really encourage you to talk to your CTE coordinator. Go and figure it out. Go and look at it. Go and get the information to see if it’s really right for you.
Scott Romney (13:56): Great. And if they do a tour, they might be able to run into you on the work floor, right?
Ian Eggleston (13:59): Yeah, yeah. See me building a panel or something.
Scott Romney (14:04): That’s terrific. You’re really turning into quite the celebrity, among people interested in youth apprenticeship and workforce development in this state. It’s been our pleasure to have you in on the Business Elevated podcast today. Thanks so much for coming and talking to us. We really appreciate it.
Ian Eggleston (14:18): Yeah, thanks for having me.
Scott Romney (14:20): And for our listeners, anybody who is interested in finding out more about the TRAC program or Talent Ready Utah, you can visit our website at talentreadyutah.com
Thanks for listening to the Business Elevated podcast, a production of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Listen to other episodes where you get your podcasts or at business.utah.gov.