Portrait of Russell Hopkin

Hopkin learns advanced manufacturing through apprenticeship

He enjoyed hands-on learning, and he wanted to stay close to home while starting a career soon after high school. Russell was also more interested in trades than studying at a four-year university.

When his parents read an article about the launch of the Made in Henderson County Apprenticeship Program, Russell signed up because he wanted to see if the advanced manufacturing career path would be a fit.

With no cost to enroll and free tuition, Russell will gain valuable hard and soft skills in the program by taking classes at Blue Ridge each Monday; working at GF Linamar, one of the high-tech industry partners, each Tuesday to Friday; and making money immediately out of high school. As he progresses through the program, he will earn higher wages each semester.

Since starting his apprenticeship in August 2019, Russell is thoroughly enjoying his experiences at Blue Ridge and GF Linamar where he is learning about automotive parts. “You can feel how much you mean to the GF Linamar team because you’re the future of their company, and it boosts your confidence,” he said. “I am excited to go to work each day.”

“It is magical to offer these real-world opportunities to local high school students, especially those who are figuring out their career paths, as we are teaching the problem solvers of today to earn the jobs of tomorrow,” shared Blue Ridge Apprenticeship Coordinator Christine Laucher.

Russell will complete the program after two years by earning a certificate in Mechatronics Engineering Technology and receiving a fulltime job offer.

He hopes to have a long career at GF Linamar after completing the program. “Even though I never thought I’d end up in machining, it is important to keep an open mind because with opportunities like this apprenticeship, you can have an enjoyable, well-paying career that fits your skills perfectly,” Russell explained.