Local workforce in ASCC Apprenticeship Program
With Apprenticeship Program classes at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) Trades & Technology Division (TTD) having gotten underway this week, the TTD has expressed its appreciation for the high turnout from the local workforce.
“Because the program has been inactive for more than a year, and not all trades workers in the territory may be familiar with its return, we did not anticipate as much of a turnout as we have,” said ASCC-TTD Apprenticeship Coordinator Fred Suisala.
For participants in the Apprenticeship Program, the TTD is offering early evening classes in Automotive, Carpentry, Electrical and Welding. Suisala said each section has good enrollment, with some in fact filled to capacity.
In preparation for the launch of the Apprentice Program, the TTD reconfigured its learning infrastructure to accommodate the evening classes, and has also hired Anetone Fuga as an adjunct Welding instructor. Fuga teaches Welding at Nu’uuli VocTech High School, and has previously served as an adjunct for the Apprentice Program at ASCC during its initial phase from 2010-11. Other TTD instructors giving classes for Apprenticeship students are Tom Hardy, who will teach Carpentry, Taetuli Laulu covering Electrical, and Suisala for Automotive.
The Apprenticeship Program offers training for current workers to achieve enhanced and updated skills through structured, on-the-job learning experiences combined with 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. Following a meeting between Suisala and the US Department of Labor (USDOL) earlier this year, the ASCC Apprenticeship Program is recognized and registered under the USDOL and thus recognized nationwide.
Classes are open to both apprentices and non-traditional students currently employed in apprentice professions. Tuition for each apprentice is the responsibility of his/her Program Sponsor or employer as per the USDOL Standards of Apprenticeship.
Suisala explained that companies and organizations in the public and private sector often initiate workforce development programs which they describe as “apprenticeships”, but for a worker’s skills recognized nationwide, he/she must have gone through a program recognized by the USDOL and must carry a certificate issued by a USDOL-approved institution or entity.
“Private companies or government agencies may issue their own apprenticeship certificate,” Suisala explained, “but it won’t be recognized by the industry if it does not meet the USDOL requirements of 2000 hours of structured on-the-job-learning and 144 hours of related classroom instruction per year, as well as a specified duration of the time served, which is anywhere from two to four years based on the occupational program approved under USDOL standards.”
In order for an apprenticeship program to be accredited and recognized with certification and credentials on a national level, it must be approved and recognized by the USDOL Office of Apprenticeship of the Employment and Training Administration (ETA).
Although an apprentice can earn the required hours of on-the-job training with his/her sponsoring company or other entity, ASCC is recognized by the USDOL as a provider of the related classroom instruction component of the Apprenticeship Training Program.
“ASCC collaborates with the USDOL Office of Apprenticeship to assist potential sponsors in developing Standards of Apprenticeship, Work Processes, Related Instruction Schedules, the Related Course Sequence, Completion of Apprentice documentation, and Welfare of Apprentice and Quality Assessment. Until the American Samoa Government establishes its own apprenticeship office, ASCC is the only local apprenticeship agency which is tasked with assuring that all USDOL guidelines and standards of apprenticeship are adhered to,” said Suisala.
Participants from the public and private sectors in this semester’s ASCC Apprenticeship Program so far include the Department of Women & Youth Affairs, Public Works, the Development Bank, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and Pacific Sales and Marketing, all of whom have enrolled workers in the TTD evening classes. For more information on the Apprenticeship Program, contact Fred Suisala at 699-9155, ext. 353.
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