Apprenticeships tilt the scales when it comes to merging into the workforce.
“Apprentices get their schooling paid for, they get incremental wages as they go, and at the end of it all — they get a certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor,” said Cameron Albring administrative assistant for the ASET Division.
Internships get students a foot in the door with employers, but there is no employment guarantee; whereas apprenticeships are a work, learn, earn model.
“It’s not all theory based, you need hands on training to be employable, too,” Albring said. “Internships do not always pay.”
MCCC fall semester enrollment was 3,144 students with 90 of them apprentices – only about 3 percent.
“A lot of college students, over 60-70 percent, are in debt well above $40,000 these days,” Albring said. “It’s because of the pressure in high school to follow a four-year track.”
Monroe county is currently constructing a Career Technical Education (CTE)-based middle college that is planned for 2018, she said.
“The name will be the Monroe County Technical and Career Early College,” Albring said. “The goal is that it’ll be a business, culinary, accounting, CIS, as well as health, and technology based learning.”
Awareness is key for students to know their options for careers and education moving forward, Albring said.
“Raise the awareness, because they are high-wage and high-tech jobs,” she said. “That’s why apprenticeships need to be there at an early age — so students know that.”
Barry Kinsey, director of workforce development, talked about women and minorities being underrepresented with apprenticeships.
“We have a lesser ratio for females who are apprentices that choose to come to Monroe,” he said. “We need increasing awareness that females can do STEM technology, can become mathematicians, engineers, and scientists.”
There is a need for businesses to sponsor more women and minorities into apprenticeships in culinary, healthcare, CNA, medical coding, medical tech, etc.
“Hopefully, the other occupational programs on campus open their doors, and MCCC moves towards offering local industry a plan for apprentice-able trades,” Albring said.
“If our other areas on campus made that connection, it could drive more female students into an occupation and craft,” she said.
MCCC sponsored a “Build Your Workforce with Registered Apprenticeships” workshop April 6. Speakers outlined the steps to developing and taking advantage of apprenticeship programs.
“The key behind apprenticeships is developing relationships,” Russel Davis, state director of the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship, said.
With bachelor’s and associate degrees, students begin with the school; aspiring apprentices start with the employer.
“A registered apprenticeship must be employer driven,” Albring said. “You have to be sponsored, then you choose your school.”
MCCC has several local partnerships that employ and instruct future machine repair/maintenance personnel, electricians, coordinate measuring machine (CMM) technicians, auto mechanics, and welders.
“UAW-Ford, National Galvanizing, Monroe Environmental, GM Battery Plant to name a few,” Albring said.
Apprenticeship courses are based on the employer and what classes they require, and the employer assigns the apprentice their trade.
“You may be able to choose, depending on where you are in the company, seniority, or experience,” Albring said.
Apprentices in the field are under their employers’ supervision in a work setting.
“They’re working under a well-qualified journeyman that’s done 12,000-15,000 hours on the job,” she said.
Apprenticeships combine a system that educates, trains, and employs someone in their field of work, while receiving technical education.
“Training results in an industry-recognized credential that is portable,” Albring said.
The certification does not come from the college, but from the U.S. Department of Labor. Apprentices receive 32-35 credits while earning their certification.
“They can always come back to the college and get a two-year degree or four-year degree,” Albring said.
For more information about apprenticeship programs at MCCC, visit http://www.monroeccc.edu/aset/apprenticeship.htm.