Op-Ed

Celebrating the power of apprenticeships in Kentucky

The week of Nov. 11-17, the nation recognizes and celebrates the power of apprenticeships. Providing benefits to both apprentices and employers, the apprentice has a paid work experience along with classroom instruction and earns a transferable credential while the employer develops their workforce and increases employee retention rates. According to the U.S. Department of Labor over 70% of 2016 college graduates plan on leaving their job within the first three years while registered apprenticeship has a demonstrated 89% three-year retention rate. Moreover, 91% of apprentices retain employment after conclusion of the apprenticeship program.

Kentucky has a strong focus on Registered Apprenticeships. As noted on the Registered Apprenticeship website for the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, “Over 250 modern apprenticeship programs are currently registered in Kentucky, with over 3,500 apprentices across a broad range of industries. In fact, since the US Department of Labor started keeping track in 2007, more than 16,000 people of all ages (including newly employed and incumbent workers) have served Kentucky’s employers in an apprentice capacity.”

The 16 Colleges of the Kentucky Community and Technical College (KCTCS) provide apprenticeship support to apprentices and employers across the Commonwealth. The Workforce Solutions department at each College facilitates the classroom instruction needed to develop a highly skilled apprentice. The apprentice earns certificates and/or a degree in their field of work. And, if the program of study is in Advanced Manufacturing, Business and IT, Construction and Trades, Healthcare, or Transportation and Logistics, the tuition for the coursework will be covered through the Work Ready Kentucky Scholarship.

KCTCS also supports an industry-led, apprenticeship-style program, the Kentucky Federation of Advanced Manufacturing (KY FAME). This is a work-and-learn program in Advanced Manufacturing where employers interview and hire students to work three 8-hour days per week at a sponsor company while attending a KCTCS College for two 8-hour days per week for five semesters. Students earn $12-17.50 per hour at their sponsor company and the employer often pays one-half of the tuition, depending on the region. Upon finishing the program, students will have over 1,800 hours of paid on-the-job experience and an Associate of Applied Science in Industrial Maintenance Technology and will be ready for a career as an Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT). Currently, starting salaries for certified AMTs begin at around $50,000.

KCTCS Colleges are proud to be selected as participant colleges with the Expanding Community College Apprenticeships (ECCA) initiative, led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor to increase the number of apprentice programs and services throughout the country. The ECCA project will be conducted over 3 years and will train 16,000 apprentices.

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System believes in the power of apprenticeships. Our colleges support apprenticeships through partnerships with business and industry in developing a better Kentucky. Apprenticeship coordinators at each college work in concert with employers to find, develop, and help retain employees through apprenticeships. And, our colleges provide apprentices with coursework and student support services as they work to have a better life through learning technical, safety, and job effectiveness skills and earning a credential.

Please join the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and its 16 Colleges as we celebrate National Apprenticeship Week and invest in Better Lives for a Better Kentucky.

Kris Williams is the Chancellor of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System

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