Now more than ever, maintaining America’s competitive edge requires that workers obtain relevant post-secondary credentials and that employers have access to a well-trained and highly-skilled workforce. For decades, the national Registered Apprenticeship system and the nation’s extensive network of two- and four-year post-secondary institutions have been at the forefront of providing industry-driven education and training that supports business competitiveness and career advancement for workers.
While Registered Apprenticeship and post-secondary programs have a long history of partnership, evolving economic and workforce trends offer new opportunities to enhance and deepen those collaborative efforts. The Secretary of Labor’s Advisory Committee on Apprenticeship (ACA), which includes members from the employer, labor, and public sectors, has identified the creation of a crosswalk of Registered Apprenticeship completion certificates to college credit as an important opportunity for apprentices as they continue on a career pathway, enhance skill acquisition, and earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. Increasing agreements on how completion certificates and credits relate between Registered Apprenticeship program sponsors and post-secondary institutions also creates a new pipeline of degree-seekers that supports the President’s goal for the U.S. to achieve the highest college attainment rate by 2020. As important, this effort will also enhance the competitiveness of American businesses by enlarging the pool of highly-trained workers that possess in-demand skills and competencies.
The ACA, with the guidance and support of the Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration and the Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, is undertaking a joint effort to raise awareness among the post-secondary education and Registered Apprenticeship communities and facilitate and increase agreements among these stakeholders. A key component of this effort is the creation of a national consortium of Registered Apprenticeship program sponsors and two- and four-year post-secondary institutions that have entered into an agreement to ensure that Registered Apprenticeship program graduates receive appropriate college credit for their prior learning and on-the-job training.
Learning and competency development take place through a wide variety of avenues and experiences, including Registered Apprenticeship. The U.S. Departments of Labor and Education are committed to enhancing recognition of apprentices’ prior learning and supporting efforts to ensure that apprentices can obtain college credit for that learning in post-secondary education programs. Creating a more seamless and mobile pathway from Registered Apprenticeship to community college benefits all stakeholders involved – two- and four-year post-secondary institutions, Registered Apprenticeship program sponsors, employers, and American workers and their families.
Brenda Dann-Messier is the Assistant Secretary and Johan Uvin is the Deputy Assistant Secretary at the Office of Vocational and Adult Education