Blog right triangle The Mutual Benefits of Youth Apprenticeships at PTA Plastics Between Mentors and Students
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The Mutual Benefits of Youth Apprenticeships at PTA Plastics Between Mentors and Students

By Adam Vitcavage

A good boss can make a work environment fun. A good mentor can change lives. Both for the mentor and for the apprentice.

At PTA Plastics, the mentor-apprentice relationship between seasoned process engineer Barry Shepard and young manufacturing engineering apprentice Tiffany Yang showcases the reciprocal benefits of their partnership. This relationship typifies the bidirectional flow of knowledge that enriches both individuals involved.

Barry, with 46 years in the industry, joined PTA Plastics to pass on his vast knowledge. “I wouldn’t call it supervising,” he said. “She is my associate for training.” In this role, Barry transcends traditional supervisory duties, favoring a collaborative and educational approach as he nears the pinnacle of his career.

Tiffany entered the plastics industry with basic knowledge but a keen interest in deepening her understanding. “When I came here, it was a whole new world,” said Tiffany. “Barry taught me about responsibility and understanding the company thoroughly.”

Their collaboration over the summer immersed Tiffany in the practical aspects of manufacturing engineering and daily workplace realities. The partnership enabled her to gain extensive hands-on experience, encouraging creative and critical thinking. He urged her to think outside the box and ask questions about processes and how things works.

The apprenticeship proved transformative for Barry as well. Despite initial reservations about mentoring a younger generation, his teaching perspectives shifted significantly through his interactions with Tiffany. “She understands my quirks and my teaching style,” said Barry. “She was very open, and I wasn’t used to that.”

This open-mindedness cultivated a working relationship grounded in mutual respect and curiosity, allowing both mentor and apprentice to learn from each other. Barry praises Tiffany’s probing nature: “Her skill is in asking ‘why.’ She processes situations very well.”

Their apprenticeship not only advanced Tiffany’s engineering skills but also rekindled Barry’s passion for his profession. “Every day working together is special. It’s spectacular to see her grow and learn,” Barry remarked.

The relationship between of Barry and Tiffany at PTA Plastics underscores the transformative power of apprenticeships, illustrating how these programs foster not just skill development but also intergenerational collaboration and mutual respect. This dynamic partnership exemplifies how modern apprenticeships contribute to mutual growth, shared successes, and a well-prepared future workforce.