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Biden Touts Apprenticeship, National Standard for Earning Academic Credit Through Skilled Trades


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Speaking at the American Association of Community Colleges convention, Vice President Joe Biden announced a national program that would allow participants in apprenticeship programs to receive academic credit for their experience.  In entering the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium, community colleges would agree to follow recommendations made by representatives of community colleges, labor unions, and the business community.  It will be run by the Departments of Education and Labor.

In Ohio, at Cuyahoga Community College, a similar program has been successful in helping apprentices earn technical associate degrees for the past decade.  The program’s success helped spark interest in a national model.  According to Ohio Association of Community Colleges spokesperson Jeff Ortega:

“Through this work Ohio has been recognized as a leader in the nation to welcome apprenticeships,” he said. “There are recognized programs in electrical trades and sheet metal and additional programs are under consideration for carpentry and pipefitter.”

The Cleveland Plain Dealer provides specifics of the program:

Cuyahoga Community College has offered college credit through its construction apprenticeship program for 17 skilled trades in fields including bricklaying, carpentry, electrician and ironworking for more than 10 years.

It grants credit for courses taken at training centers across the state by those in registered apprenticeship programs, said program coordinator Patricia Pietraroia.  An apprentice can receive 30 skilled trade credits and if he takes 30 general education courses at the college he can receive an associate degree, she said.

The Ohio Board of Regents, which approved Tri-C’s program, includes information on apprenticeship programs on its credit transfer site.

Currently, thousands of similar agreements exist between apprenticeship programs and singular colleges.  In creating a national consortium, more consistent standards and reciprocity agreements can be met, providing participants a clearer path to an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree.  

During the convention, Vice President Biden touched on the necessity of the program, saying, “That’s a game change for a lot of people struggling to choose between going to work and going to college, when they can do both. With an apprenticeship, they are able to earn while they’re learning.”


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