(Q&A with Christin (aka Chrissy) Cooney, program coordinator, Lorain County Community College)
When did the apprenticeship programs begin at LCCC?
LCCC did customized apprenticeships for individual companies, including Ford, for 30 years, and still does. But, the new state-approved apprenticeship training program counts toward a degree and is registered with and approved by the state, not just internal to the company. The Medina County pilot, in partnership with Cuyahoga Community College, began in January 2017 with the first group of students starting their apprenticeship training in August 2017. Next term, they will be on machines at Medina County Career Center with LCCC and Tri-C faculty teaching. Each semester, the apprentices take one course through Tri-C and one course through LCCC, but the LCCC faculty members travel to Tri-C to teach the courses there for the pilot companies from Medina County. There currently are 15 shared students in the program with eight registered to LCCC and seven registered to Tri-C. We have taken collaboration to a new level and broken down barriers between colleges.
What is the difference between an apprenticeship and an approved state-registered apprenticeship?
ApprenticeOhio, a division of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, approves these apprenticeships, and these apprentices are required to meet strict codes. Students end up with a credential that’s nationally portable. Employers are recognized for maintaining high standards of quality training and advancement. LCCC offers lots of support for the employers, which results in better retention of skilled talent.
What manufacturing apprenticeships do you offer?
Currently, we offer apprenticeships in all of the programs in the engineering division, including alternative energy, automation engineering, construction, digital fabrication, electronic engineering, engineering technology, industrial safety, manufacturing engineering, mechatronics, welding, but not all of them are state-registered. We are trying to get digital fabrication, industrial safety, mechatronics and welding into the state-approved program since those are the fields where employees can succeed with training and a journeyman’s card, while the other areas usually require a bachelor’s degree to work in the field. The current state-registered cohort is in tool & die. We already have submitted industrial safety to the state and will be submitting welding and agriculture next.
How does a company become part of this program?
They need to sign on as a partner with a letter of support and have one journeyman, or someone with equivalent experience, in their organization per apprentice who is willing to supervise on-the-job training.
Do the students or the participating companies get paid?
These apprenticeships are a win-win for everyone: The sponsoring company gets skilled employees and a $2,500 stipend from the state through April 2019 for each new apprentice; the apprentice continues to earn a full-time salary while their classes paid are for by their employer, which means no student-loan debt and years of income; and Tri-C and LCCC get students.
In the end, it only costs a participating company about $2,500 in educational costs, after the stipend, to develop a high-potential employee into a skilled, state-licensed journeyman. In addition, the registered apprentice has a state identification number, not just a college certification. So, when he or she finishes, that person is a journeyman who is qualified to work anywhere in the industry, not just trained in that company’s methods. Finally, the student will graduate with a one-year certification or an associate’s degree that can be applied to further education.
How long do the apprenticeships run?
The current tool & die program requires 780 contact (in-class) hours with the teacher, 32 semester credit hours and 8,000 hours of on-the-job training. It takes about 3.5 years to complete the course credit, since there are no summer classes held so that employees can work overtime during the busy season then another six months to complete the work hours. So, in four years, apprentices get the “golden ticket.”
Which companies currently are participating?
Twelve companies came to us and said they would each bring at least one employee in order for the class to run. We ran with 15 students in this first cohort who currently work for Automation Tool & Die, Clamco, Atlantic Tool & Die, Shiloh Industries, and Superior Roll Forming.
How do you help the sponsoring companies?
Since most human resources teams do not have the time to administer an apprenticeship in a small- to mid-sized company, we shift the burden of administrative duties to the college as the sponsor. We do all of the paperwork and work with the state.
What is does the RAMP acronym at LCCC refer to?
Retooling Adults in Manufacturing Programs. It’s basically an acronym that we use to brand our restructured manufacturing programs that now have stackable credentials to allow students to build on their education and training with a certificate, a one-year degree and an associate’s degree that is then transferrable to a four-year university toward a bachelor’s degree for fields that require one.
Do you currently have a mobile classroom?
We have an eight-student mobile welding trailer sponsored by Lincoln Electric, and Cuyahoga Community College has a manufacturing trailer. We rent the trailers to each other in order to share resources to best serve our students.
What is planned for the future?
As mentioned, we hope to add other areas of the engineering program to the state-registered apprenticeship training process, but since we are doing manufacturing well, we would like to add information technology, health care and other business-related areas in partnership with Cuyahoga Community College. And, we ALWAYS are looking for faculty in the trades who can teach part time around their work schedules.