PITTSTON--- Governor Tom Wolf visited a packaging plant in Pittston that could be paving the way for apprentice programs in the state.
Greiner Packaging is known for making environmentally friendly yogurt cups, and it's satisfying a hunger for eager employees through apprenticeships.
"What we look for in employees is the passion, the drive, the fire in the belly that they want to progress through their career," President of Greiner Packaging David Kirkland said.
Governor Wolf said he approves of the program. He donned protective clothing and toured the plant with two apprentice students from Luzerne County Community College, who have been in the program for about a year.
The students said they already know they want to be lifelong employees.
"I want to next work here for the next 30 plus years of my life. This company feels like a big family," apprentice Paul Smith said.
"I'm looking for an education that is relevant for the futures of Pennsylvanians and they have a very relevant education here, so I was very impressed," Governor Wolf said.
Students said they pay about $1,000 a year in tuition and then the company picks up the rest of the tab. They said the skills they learn at work translate in class.
"In the maintenance shop, we do a lot of the stuff that we do in our machine in class," apprentice Zubair Binabdul said.
It's a proven program by the company's president, who actually started as an apprentice at the company and climber up the ladder to CEO.
"What you put into an apprenticeship you get out of it. Hence apprentice to president in 14 years," Kirkland said.
Governor Wolf said this program could be a model for the future, especially for students who know that a formal four-year college education might not be there.
"There are all kinds of opportunities for people. We need people to make sure they have the skills to take those jobs," Governor Wolf said.
The apprentices hope to graduate from community college and start work at Greiner Packaging immediately after.