MONTGOMERY – New apprenticeship opportunities across hundreds of companies in Alabama are meeting workforce needs by giving residents the ability to focus on college and earning a living at the same time.
Every community or technical college in Alabama now has at least one apprenticeship registered through the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship (AOA) and supported by Alabama’s business and industry. A registered apprenticeship is an AOA-validated, industry-driven career pathway that allows students to work for a competitive wage for companies within their field of study while also earning college credit toward a credential or degree.
Apprenticeships help meet the workforce needs in several high-demand industries, including manufacturing, nursing, and childcare. In the last six months alone, at least 60 healthcare facilities have signed up to offer nursing apprenticeships for licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN) programs at 12 of Alabama’s community and technical colleges.
“When it comes to earning a valuable credential and entering an in-demand occupation, each Alabamian has their own set of unique challenges to overcome,” said Governor Ivey. “Apprenticeships offer an excellent opportunity to learn a valuable skill while also getting paid to do so, which opens countless doors for those that simply cannot afford to go without a paycheck. I applaud the Alabama Community College System for expanding work-based learning opportunities to each of its 24 campuses and preparing our workforce to meet the demands of tomorrow.”
Apprentices are employees first. They are hired by the employer who wants to invest in their training. Students who apply and are selected for a registered apprenticeship spend a portion of their week working hands-on with a company to obtain the skills necessary to succeed in their career of choice. The remainder of the week is spent learning either virtually or inside a college classroom or lab.
When students complete the apprenticeship with their credential or degree, they begin work with their employer full-time.
“Apprenticeships are the gold-standard in work-based learning. They offer a proven path to meet Alabama’s workforce demand in high-wage, high demand occupations and allow citizens to earn a living while they learn a skill. The participation of higher education in Alabama to help offer these opportunities adds tremendous value to the programs,” said Josh Laney, Director of the Alabama Office of Apprenticeship.
“We are proud that the Alabama Community College System has invested so much into ensuring that the residents of this state have opportunities that go beyond residents just being able to say they have a credential. Their credentials and the opportunity for apprenticeship also give them the chance to say they have a job they can use to create a career.”
The length of time a resident trains through an apprenticeship varies based on the specific training needs defined by the employer. It is this employer-driven model that guarantees the training aligns directly with what the apprentice will need to grow and prosper in his or her career. Partnering with the ACCS gives the option to include credit-bearing coursework and frequently results in the apprentice completing an entire degree through the program.
In addition to the income a student earns during an apprenticeship, participating employers commit to paying any remaining tuition fees after a student’s financial aid and scholarships have been awarded. This means that students who participate in registered apprenticeships in Alabama typically complete their training program with no academic debt.
“We cannot work in a one-size-fits-all model when it comes to serving residents as their community college, so we focus on more than just the training that helps our students be competitive in the workforce – we take a look at what we can do to create the most seamless means necessary for success,” said Jimmy H. Baker, Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System. “Alabama is a great state for workforce development. We are committed to doing our part as a community college system to help residents achieve what they can in order to thrive in our state’s economy.”
“Flex-N-Gate benefits greatly from our apprenticeship programs and partnerships with the community colleges in Alabama,” said Joy Mays, Human Resources manager for Flex-N-Gate Alabama. The company was voted one of Forbes 2022 America’s Best Large Employers.
“Tight market conditions mean we can no longer ‘buy’ the skilled trades needed in manufacturing, so our apprenticeship programs provide highly skilled workers, trained in our plant, to help grow our business. These graduates improve safety, productivity and profitability.”
Residents should contact their local community college for more information on how to apply for local apprenticeships and other work-based learning opportunities.
With 24 community colleges in more than 130 locations, the Alabama Community College System (ACCS) is Alabama’s gateway to first-class, affordable education and technical training to compete in a constantly evolving workforce. More than 144,000 Alabamians benefit from the various certification, credential, dual enrollment and degree programs ACCS offers alongside leading industry partners. The System includes the Alabama Technology Network, which provides extensive training and service offerings directly to business and industry. ACCS is governed by the Alabama Community College System Board of Trustees.