Stratford-based Sikorsky is now helping its summer interns enter the workforce.

The Lockheed Martin subsidiary announced Tuesday that its Teamsters-Sikorsky Career Pathways Program has been certified as an Aircraft Manufacturing per-apprenticeship program.

Sikorsky has partnered with Teamsters Local 1150 for 18 years on the eight-week paid summer internship, which provides high school students with hands-on learning and exposure to manufacturing skills and jobs at the Stratford helicopter maker’s site.

“The transition to a certified per-apprenticeship is the next logical step for our program,” said Rocco Calo, Secretary-Treasurer and Principal Officer of Teamsters Local 1150 in a press release. “Not only will it help us to recruit those students who are looking for industry recognized credentials, but it helps to bolster U.S. manufacturing by preparing these students to work in any aerospace facility.”

Students have traditionally graduated from the program with about 600 hours of experience. Now, Calo said, graduates will be able to apply those hours as apprenticeship credits at any company in the aerospace industry with an apprenticeship program.

Since the start of the program, Lockheed Martin has been looking to expand it to other sites in the company to grow the manufacturing workforce nationwide through STEM programs, according to George Mitchell Sikorsky, vice president of Production Operations.

“This program fits right in,” he said, adding the program supports Lockheed Martin’s commitment to create 8,000 new apprenticeship and workforce positions within the company over the next four years.

“These students serve as a cornerstone of our talent pipeline and success of our workforce, as they help us fill advanced manufacturing occupations,” Mitchell said in a press release.

At the end of their final run with the program, Calo said, participants are typically positioned for hiring at Sikorsky or any of the companies within its supply chain.

Teamsters Local 1150 has represented workers at Sikorsky for nearly 60 years, in the company’s Connecticut, Florida and Alabama locations.

The Career Pathway’s program has already had more than 300 students participate since 2002. Roughly a third of the participants have been hired after the program, according to Mitchell.

With about $3.5 billion in contracts awaiting approvals, Sikorsky is already preparing for an overhaul in production and planning more hiring in coming months.

Calo has said in previous interviews that the company has been hiring roughly 30 people per month since January.

Nearly 50 high school students who participated in the recent class have already spent time working on major products including the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter which is also part of Sikorsky’s new contracts.

jordan.grice@hearstmediact.com