With six locations throughout three counties, the College of Central Florida serves a population of just over 550,000 persons. Over 10,000 learners participate in for-credit and non-credit education and training programs each year. Its largest campus in Ocala is the site of a new, innovative, and sustainable apprenticeship partnership with Lockheed Martin Corporation. Lockheed Martin employs approximately 114,000 people worldwide. According to Dr. James Henningsen, President of the College of Central Florida, “The college’s unique partnership with Lockheed Martin will create an academic pathway for its employees to earn college credit while on the job.”
The apprenticeship program trains Electronics Associates to solder circuit cards and wiring harnesses used in aerospace and defense systems. The program reached a new level of collaboration after two years of planning to create a soldering lab on the College of Central Florida campus. Apprentices begin their career journey with two weeks of training at the soldering lab, which mimics the environment in which they will eventually work. The program continues at Lockheed Martin with two additional weeks of intense training and approximately two years of on-the-job learning. Lockheed Martin faculty provides the Related Instruction both at the College of Central Florida lab and onsite at Lockheed Martin. Faculty from both organizations worked closely to maintain quality and align curriculum to ensure that apprentice competencies meet Lockheed Martin’s needs and articulate to college credit. After the initial four weeks of instruction, apprentices are eligible for nine College of Central Florida credits which stack toward an Associate of Science in Engineering Technology. Apprentices have up to three years to accept the credit.
Good communication, shared vision, time, and a culture of collaboration were the ingredients that made a successful partnership. Key partners included CareerSource Florida, the governor’s principal workforce policy board, and its local branch, CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion. Those organizations supported building apprenticeship programs, recruiting apprenticeship candidates, and identifying and funding opportunities to defray training costs. The Expanding Community College Apprenticeships (ECCA) project of the AACC has helped with the costs of consumables and a program liaison.
The College of Central Florida was critical to the partnership’s success for several reasons; a strong relationship with the local Lockheed Martin facility, a large number of Lockheed Martin employees already pursuing education with the College, and the College’s training space available to a landlocked Lockheed Martin Ocala facility. Dr. Jennifer Fryns, Associate Vice President of Career and Professional programs, says the secret sauce was “… right timed funding from the state’s quick response training program, ECCA funding, and an awesome faculty member who took the lead.”