One of the effective strategies related to registered apprenticeship programs (RAP) is aligning workforce-related programs to industry needs in high-demand, high-wage areas. This requires community colleges to utilize their curriculum and instruction processes to develop new programs based on industry guidance. Since the inception of the AACC-ECCA program, Tarrant County College (TCC) has engaged its board of trustees to assist in bringing new partners to the table to build new programs, such as the basic pipefitter.
The basic pipefitter program was designed to prepare students for entry-level careers in the pipefitter industry to install, maintain, and repair pipes in support of the expanding construction sector in Fort Worth, Texas. Sharing with the board of trustees relevant data, such as the employment rate of 43,490 individuals with a projected job growth rate of 22.9% over the next 10 years, and entry-level wages of $15.43 per hour, a mid-range of $22.92 per hour, and advanced experience wages of $45.05 per hour on average, are essential data points to meet the needs of our community and expanding workforce. It is essential for community college boards to understand industry needs, high-demand/high-wage learning opportunities for students, and how to enhance the over economic impact of the communities they serve. Programming of degrees and certificates allow for such strategic approaches.
Another effective strategy related to RAP is to engage your local Workforce Solutions Board. Dr. Shannon Ydoyaga, vice president for academic affairs at Tarrant County College’s South Campus, provided a presentation on new programs aligned to registered apprenticeships offered through TCC and discussed the pathways for students in programs such as heavy equipment operator, pipefitting, and welding. In the message to the board, Dr. Ydoyaga emphasized the importance of the role of the community college by stating, “Tarrant County College has developed programs such as the Heavy Equipment Operator and Basic Pipefitter to create fast-track, high-wage training opportunities to create a pathway in the construction sector for registered apprenticeships in order to continuously enhance the skills of students from the beginning of their career and all the way to the C-Suite.”
Opportunities such as this are what truly change the lives of students and create a positive economic impact for Tarrant County as a whole. Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County subsequently added these programs to the High Demand Occupation List.