Located in northeast Ohio, Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) is the lead college in an Ohio-based consortium of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Expanding Community College Apprenticeships (ECCA) grant program. Other participating colleges in the consortium include Lakeland Community College, Lorain County Community College, and Stark State College. According to labor market information, this region of the state has a high need for trained workers in healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing. Using ECCA funds, registered apprenticeship programs are focused on these three employment sectors.
With a goal of 450 new registered apprenticeships over the grant period, the Tri-C consortium sought ways in which to streamline data management using technological applications. At the AACC Workforce Development Institute held in Amelia Island, Florida, in January 2020, Tri-C began discussions with a conference vendor, Jobspeaker, Inc., to explore ways to record on-the-job (OJT) hours accurately and efficiently and provide additional important notifications and pathway information to apprentices using a mobile application. Working closely with Jobspeaker, Tri-C developed the initial version of the mobile Tri-C Apprenticeship app and began using it in spring of 2021.
The process of using the apprenticeship app is simple. Apprentices download the app from the Tri-C apprenticeship website, either on their phone or on a computer. For obvious reasons of convenience, most apprentices prefer to use the app on their mobile phone. For the apprentice, it is a relatively quick procedure to open the app on their phone and log their OJT hours. The hours logged by the apprentice are tagged by the type of work (e.g., lathe operation, milling equipment, robotics, etc.). Using this same app, the employer is required to sign off on the self-reported hours for each apprentice. Typically, the employer’s floor manager or supervisor is the verifier, although at some companies, the HR staff view and verify the OJT hours.
The recorded and verified hours are electronically available to the Tri-C apprenticeship coordinator and the data and progress toward the 8,000 required OJT hours per apprentice is closely monitored to meet the Ohio State Apprenticeship Council and U.S. Department of Labor guidelines. If an apprentice is not regularly reporting their OJT hours, or their progress is falling behind expectations, Tri-C apprenticeship staff will note the irregularity and contact the apprentice. Data from the app can be synthesized and uploaded by Tri-C for program and state reporting purposes.
Tri-C is currently developing and refining additional app features. For example, the apprenticeship app will offer the ability for an apprentice to view their educational training progress in current and past courses as well as the future courses they need for program completion. Also, the app will connect the apprentice to career pathway information about further training at Tri-C including Associates and 4-year college degrees. As a marketing and recruiting tool, the app will be available to pre-apprenticeship students (who may also include youth and young adults and other prospective apprentices) to download and view information about registered apprenticeships and more general information about careers in healthcare, information technology, and manufacturing. Employer partners will also be able to view the app to learn more about how they can access and utilize the Tri-C apprenticeship program to create their own pathway for technical talent.
The Tri-C Apprenticeship app has streamlined apprentice OJT reporting and given the Tri-C apprenticeship program a useful and efficient tool for program management, recruiting, and marketing. As the utility and convenience of the Tri-C Apprenticeship app is readily apparent, other members of the Tri-C consortium have begun the process of adopting or adapting the app to fit their unique programs.