Apprenticeships are invaluable training models for employer partners to develop and skill-up their current workforce and provide a model or pathway to high-wage, high-demand careers. Apprenticeships are also great enrollment management and employer feedback tools for faculty. As faculty work with employer partners to develop pathways using existing curriculum, they better understand the skills needed for current and future careers and the apprentices on those structured pathways become degree-seeking students filling up the classes in their programs consistently and at high completion rates. The industries also provide insight into competencies that will be needed to address skills gaps before they become workforce deficits.
At Ivy Tech Community College, we develop degree programs with input from employer partners to align with industry needs. But not all programs fit current and future careers in each industry. Working with faculty and industry partners, we developed an interdisciplinary model to structure degree outcomes using program electives to stack to a certificate (CT) at 18 hours and a technical certificate (TC) at 30 hours. These TCs and CTs then stack to an appropriate associate of applied science (AAS) degree. This allows employer partners, particularly those with apprenticeships, to tailor program content to specific careers. And again, it supports current programs with increased and consistent enrollment. Since apprentices complete at very high rates, we can use our TC and CT outcomes to increase completion rates through our interdisciplinary degree. Completions increased by 45% the first year.