The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has partnered with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to launch a major initiative to dramatically increase the number of apprentices entering the workforce.
The goal of the partnership is to produce 16,000 new apprentices nationwide. To do so, AACC and DOL will provide resources to community colleges and employers to create and operate more high-quality, affordable, inclusive, flexible and industry-relevant registered and/or industry-recognized apprenticeship programs.
“These are not apprentices in name only,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC president and CEO. “These are industry-relevant apprenticeship programs that are recognized and/or registered. It will result in thousands of students who are job-ready and a newly imagined network of apprenticeships that will serve industry and employers’ needs for decades to come. We are so proud to partner with the Department of Labor on this critical work.”
The partnership will first identify, validate and promote highly successful apprenticeship models and work-based learning programs that can be rapidly ramped up into full apprenticeship programs, according to AACC.
The partnership also will use a $20 million investment to create a web-based Virtual Apprenticeship Network to connect employees and community colleges. The network will house data on apprenticeship programs, including details such as sector and occupation, requirements for completion, required credentials and more. The searchable database will help any size business looking to connect with local educational partners.
A third component of the partnership is to fund 80 selected community colleges that can rapidly expand local partnerships to garner 12,000 new apprentices in three years. Models such as internships, externships, co-operative experiences and other non-registered models of work-based learning will be examined.
For the final component, the partnership will focus on four globally recognized companies and their local community colleges to develop and implement programs designed to ensure that their specific needs for qualified and trained employees are met. AACC will identify industry partners and work with community colleges selected for specific industry interests/sectors, recommend strategies and help in the implementation. The partners will each commit to training 1,000 apprentices within three years.
“Creating new and better ways at the intersection of students and employers just makes sense and we are excited to build something that will have a lasting impact for students, employers and for the American economy,” Bumphus said.