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Enrollment up for ASCC's Apprenticeship program

Guest instructor Pani Ng Lam (second left) is seen here with the Automotive section of the ASCC Apprenticeship & Workforce Development Program, which began its semester last week. See story for more details of the highly successful apprenticeship program. [Photo: J. Kneubuhl]

The Apprenticeship & Workforce Development Program in the Trades & Technology Department (TTD) of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) began its second semester this past week with 72 participants signed up for six classes, a rise from 54 in Fall 2013.  For this eight-week cycle of instruction, the Apprenticeship & Workforce Development Program is offering evening courses in Automotive, Electrical, Welding, and new additions AutoCAD (Architectural Drafting), Air Conditioning and Computer Literacy.
 
Apprenticeship & Workforce Development Coordinator Fred Suisala observed that the most popular choices among apprentices this semester are Welding and the new offering, Computer Literacy. “The US Department of Labor (USDOL) considers Administrative Assistant an apprenticeable occupation,” he explained, “so we’ve introduced a course for the benefit of those who would like to pursue office work but for whatever reason haven’t had the opportunity to learn basic computer skills. Moreover, AutoCAD users, automotive technicians, electronic technicians and other trades workers need to know the use of PCs and laptops for designing, diagnostics, estimations, and retrieving repair information, since most related materials are now available only in software and online formats which are updated on a daily basis, and thus require computer skills to apply.’
 
The program defines “apprentice” as an individual currently employed in a particular field who seeks to expand his/her skills in their chosen area.  Some participants cover their own tuition costs, but the program encourages public and private sector employers to sponsor their workers as an investment not only in the individual’s future, but also in the growth of the business or government division from which they come. Business and government participants in this semester’s Apprenticeship Program include Ace Hardware, the Development Bank, the Department of Youth and Women’s Affairs, Public Works, Sepp’s Paint Shop, E & W Construction, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and ASCC itself.
 
“I’m happy to see that many of the apprentices from last semester have returned this time to continue their training,” said Suisala. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback regarding the program from both the apprentices and their sponsors, and I’m certain this has contributed to our increased enrollment.” Classes take place in the late afternoon to accommodate the work schedule of students, and each “semester” in the program lasts for a duration of eight weeks. “Our apprentices are not like typical college students carrying a diverse load of classes,” said Suisala, “so they can intensely focus on just one class and we can cover all of the necessary material in eight weeks.”
 
The Apprenticeship & Workforce Development 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 USDOL last year, the ASCC program was registered under the USDOL and is now 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.
 
For more information on the Apprenticeship Program, contact Fred Suisala at 699-9155, ext. 353.



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