Tools you can use: The Virtual Apprenticeship Network

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The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has developed the Virtual Apprenticeship Network (VAN) Toolkit to help expand registered apprenticeships through community colleges with their partners.

VAN includes best practices from more than 60 community colleges that have been involved in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Expanding Community College Apprenticeship (ECCA) Initiative.

Through the work of the initiative, AACC concluded that while high-quality tools about registered apprenticeships for community colleges exist, few are compiled and organized specifically for two-year colleges. The association has identified, organized and, where necessary, created or customized tools for rapid adoption by community colleges.

This article comes from the AACC 21st-Century Center.

Sections provide information on implementing a registered apprenticeship program, managing and sustaining the program, and using effective messaging to show the value of the program. There is information about: gauging a college’s readiness to adopt a registered apprenticeship program; calculating the return on investment; increasing diversity in apprenticeships; and tracking data and outcomes.

The AACC Advisory Board on Community College Apprenticeships, which comprises community college executives and associated stakeholders including industry partners, has vetted all these tool.

Developing a strong message

The tools were built to showcase relevant programs across myriad community settings, occupational sectors and partners and governance structures.

The effective messaging section, for example, has information on how to talk about apprenticeship programs to college boards, political leaders, community members, faculty and more.

One of the many college case studies in the section highlights how the use of key partnerships and targeted outreach strategies helped the Los Angeles City College Apprenticeship Initiative successfully engage and serve both apprentices and employers and build impactful relationships during uncertain times. Student outreach involved identification of key collaborators, such as department faculty, critical in bridging the gap between the program and students. Collaborators were instrumental in identifying a pool of qualified student applicants.

To engage employers, LACC took part in virtual events, like employer roundtables. That connected its apprenticeship program to the larger LACC network, the mayor’s office network, local work source centers and other local apprenticeship programs. Those connections led to more personalized and transparent communication with employers and one-on-one conversations. As of last summer, the LACC Apprenticeship Initiative had successfully partnered with MEIRXRS to place students in their food quality inspection apprenticeship.