ASCC’s apprenticeship program ready for re-launch
In keeping with its mission to give American Samoa’s workforce the opportunity to upgrade its skills and prepare for professional licensure and certification, the Trades & Technology Division (TTD) of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) is collaborating with the US Department of Labor (USDOL), Office of Apprenticeship in re-launching the TTD Apprenticeship Training Program, scheduled to commence in October.
The TTD previously offered its highly successful Apprenticeship Program in the fall of 2010 and spring 2011.
“Our primary objective is to increase the number and quality of skilled workers in the territory, working with local partners to assure that the students who complete the program are able to pass local and national certifications and licensure,” said TTD Automotive instructor Fred Suisala, who also serves as ASCC Apprenticeship Coordinator. “The Registered Apprenticeship system provides the opportunity for workers seeking high-skilled, high- paying jobs and for employers seeking to build a qualified workforce. In this regard, the Registered Apprenticeship system effectively meets the needs of both employers and workers”.
The Apprenticeship Program will provide training for current workers to achieve enhanced and updated skills through structured, on-the-job learning experiences and related classroom instruction.
The program in full entails about 144 hours of classroom instruction and 2000 hours of on-the-job training per year, although the exact time sequence will differ with respective trades or industry fields. “It usually takes about four to six years to complete the apprenticeship training to become a Journey worker,” explained Suisala.
When a worker begins an occupation in an entry level position, he/she is considered an Apprentice. He/she may enroll in the Apprenticeship program as a 1st Year, 2nd Year or 3rd Year Apprentice until the completion of the program in the 4th and final year, when the status of Journeyman is earned. A Journeyman is a highly skilled and a certified master craftsman in a particular field.
This program is a continuation of the pilot Apprenticeship Program of 2010 – 2011, which was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for only one year of the four it takes to complete, and thus was offered free to participants.
This time, the program at ASCC will be recognized and registered under the USDOL, which enhances its credibility and its recognition by industries nationwide. Classes will be open to both apprentices and non-traditional students currently employed in their respective professions. Tuition for each apprentice will be the responsibility of his/her Program Sponsor or employer as per the USDOL Standards of Apprenticeship. For traditional students, the TTD will continue to offer its regular classes in a non-apprentice format.
In early August, Suisala met in San Francisco with USDOL Regional Executive Assistant Patty Garcia to become familiar with USDOL standards and requirements, after which the USDOL pledged its full support to enable the TTD Apprenticeship Training Program to become a USDOL Registered Apprenticeship.
The TTD invites any public and private sector company or government agency to become sponsors in the Apprenticeship Program. “What we’re offering could be useful for workers at ASG agencies such as Public Works, ASTCA, and ASPA,” said Suisala, “as well as the territory’s many private companies.”
Classes offered will be in the areas of Automotive, Construction, Electrical, Welding, and Refrigeration/ Air Conditioning, and taught for a semester lasting eight weeks, which will allow for four semesters per year. Classes will take place in the evenings from 5 to 7:30 p.m., with some meeting on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and others on Tuesday and Thursday.
A Certificate of Completion will be issued by ASCC for each course a participant passes, while a Certificate of Training will be issued by the USDOL Office of Apprenticeship upon conclusion of the program in full. Scheduled Course offerings will be advertised in the media prior to the beginning of the program.
In anticipation of the Apprenticeship Program getting underway, the ASCC TTD has forged several key partnerships which will support it. First, the ASCC Adult Education, Literacy and Extended Learning (AELEL) program will offer English as a Second Language courses free of charge for participants who may need them while enrolled in the Apprenticeship Program.
Incoming participants will take a required placement test during registration and will be placed in an ESL course if needed, based on the results. Registration for the Apprenticeship Program is scheduled to begin on September 29, with the first day of instruction taking place on October 7th. Participants must be 18 years or older, and have graduated from high school or hold a GED certificate.
Anyone seeking more information on the Apprenticeship Program can contact the TTD at 699-9155, ext. 472.
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