Owens Community College (OCC) annually enrolls more than 1,000 apprentices in the skilled and construction trade apprenticeship programs. The OCC Apprenticeship Programs vary in length from 2-5 years, depending on program structure. Apprenticeships are sponsored by OCC, a company, or a union. For those apprenticeships sponsored by companies and unions, the apprentice’s primary objective is to attain a “Journeyman’s Card.” For decades, a Journeyman’s Card has represented mastery in the trades, and is the most widely recognized industry credential. However, once an apprentice receives their Journeyman’s Card, and their apprenticeship ends, they have no incentive to complete an academic certificate or degree program, or even apply for a credential that they may have already earned.
A Journeyman’s Card does not necessarily equate to an academic certificate or degree, which is the standard that the State of Ohio uses to measure OCC’s successful completion rate. For example, they may have successfully completed 720 hours of classroom work, and 10,000 hours of on-the-job training, yet by the state’s definition, only those that receive an academic credential are counted as “successful completers.”
OCC sought to address this challenge through the creation of an “auto award” credential program. To move forward with the program, OCC needed to investigate the following:
- Whether apprentices have already qualified for a credential based on their classroom and on-the-job training; and if so, which certificates and/or degrees?
- What steps does OCC need to take to award the apprentices the credentials they have earned?
- How many apprentices would this impact annually?
Based on an audit process, it was concluded that students who completed apprenticeships in plumbing/pipefitting, sheet metal and iron workers potentially qualified for certificates in welding, plumbing/pipefitting, HVAC, building maintenance, and electrical.
In practice, the OCC Apprenticeship Program identified 153 students who had completed their plumbing/pipefitting apprenticeship in May 2020. The names of those students were sent to the OCC Records Department which analyzed whether these apprentices qualified for any of the designated credentials.
These actions resulted in awarding 91 certificates, without course substitutions, with the opportunity for that number to rise significantly with course substitutions. Based on this data, we expect that utilization of this auto-award program will increase the number of successful completions for OCC by 100-200 annually.