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HICKORY, N.C. — High-end full-line furniture manufacturer Century Furniture has partnered the Catawba County (N.C.) Schools to launch an apprenticeship program.

The program was developed last year, when Century decided to use its sewing and spring-up departments to train and mentor students interested in a career in the furniture industry.

Century’s human resources team worked with Kim Teague, coordinator of the apprenticeship program for Catawba County Schools, to select a high school with which to partner. Century decided to work with St. Stephens High and Fred T. Ford, where three candidates were selected.

Century Furniture’s plant 3 is mentoring two students in its sewing department and one student in the spring-up department. All three began their apprenticeship the second week of February.

The students attend school for the first part of the school day and join the Century team in the afternoons Monday through Thursday.

The three selected students are Jazmin Rangel-Guiza, a junior at St. Stephens High School taking courses in apparel; Trenton McPherson, a senior at St. Stephens; and Arlene Rangel-Lemus, a junior at St. Stephens, also taking courses in apparel.

The purpose of this program is to help students that may not be ready or able to attend a four-year university immediately after high school, and give high school students opportunities to learn a trade in a manufacturing environment that they may wish to pursue throughout their working career. If they choose other career options, the skills they have developed can be used as a backup or second trade.

“We want to show these students the opportunities that exist in our industry and give them a glimpse of how much manufacturing has changed through the years,” said Alex Shuford III, president of Century Furniture. “While the art of making furniture is still very much a craft, there are areas of our business that are highly automated utilizing computer systems and technology.”


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