Apprenticeship Programs – Educational Pathways Embracing the Student and the Employer

Finding pathways for the student who wants the option of working while attending college has been difficult.  There has been the internship model where students pay for credits and then work to gain experience from a local employer.  Now students have another option as colleges embrace apprenticeship programs currently making their presence at many local community colleges.

Apprenticeship programs are a partnership with the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL), U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), and local employers.  Recently The State University of New York (SUNY) was added as another partner with the objective to coordinate activities to expand Registered Apprenticeship in New York with a focus on engaging small, medium, and large employers to secure paid apprenticeships in high-demand, competitive wage occupations.

This partnership has led to the expansion of Apprentices in the Hudson Valley.  Currently, there are approximately 40 such apprentices in the manufacturing trades of Machinist (CNC), Electro-Mechanical Technician, Maintenance Mechanic (Automatic Equipment), Quality Assurance Auditor, Toolmaker and Industrial Manufacturing Technician.

The apprenticeship initiative has allowed SUNY schools to assist local manufacturers in training employees to continue on their career pathway into higher paying jobs within the company.  It has allowed SUNY schools to map both their credit bearing and non-credit bearing coursework to the Related Instruction for the trades support by local employers and provide credentials as part of the process.  Apprentices are able to use grant funds of up to $5,000 per apprentice to work towards the completion of a Micro-Credential or an Associate Degree.  An example is that a CNC Machinist Apprentice would be able to take coursework such as Metrology, GD&T and CNC Operator tuition free.  These courses stack into the CNC Operator Micro-Credential, which in turn stacks into an Associate Degree.

This fall, SUNY Ulster saw eighteen apprentices take at least one course.  Most popular was the Fundamentals of Electricity but apprentices also took CNC Operator, Intro to Engineering Design: 3D Prototyping, College Algebra & Trigonometry and Fundamental Concepts of Metrology. Next semester SUNY Ulster will be offering Certified Production Technician (CPT), Fundamental Concepts of Metrology, CNC Operator, AutoCAD, and Solid Modeling.   

Investing in an employee’s education is a win-win situation for employer, the employee and the community.  In a recent survey, unemployment is only 2% for associate’s degree holders and the same survey finds that an associate’s degree significantly increases the likelihood of holding a professional or management position.  Employers who invest in the apprenticeship initiative directly invest in their employees, their company as well as the economic growth of the community.

Written by Barbara Ann Livermore Reer, SUNY Ulster, Assistant Dean for Workforce, Career Development and Apprenticeship Initiatives

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