Corrections agencies use grant program

MARIETTA — Thanks to the ApprenticeOhio grant program, local businesses can get state-funded training for incumbent workers at Washington State Community College.

Local law enforcement agencies were among the first to take advantage of this training that allows Ohio businesses to partner with institutions of higher education.

Recently, 10 corrections officers from Washington, Morgan and Noble counties completed a required month-long Corrections Academy at WSCC to ensure all officers have the technical instruction and are knowledgeable on state guidelines and regulations, WSCC said. Normally, the cost for this compulsory training would be paid for from the county sheriff’s office budget, but thanks to ApprenticeOhio, the $1350 expense is now offset by grant dollars.

ApprenticeOhio is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Labor and the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services to get training for incumbent workers. “They call it ‘earn while you learn’,” said Jesse Roush, executive director of Workforce Development and Corporate Partnerships at WSCC; “through it, we are able to establish customized training for a business to help strengthen its incumbent workforce.”

While apprenticeships are commonly associated with trade unions, in reality, the scope is much broader than just training for electricians or plumbers, Roush said. “That’s the traditional model,” said Roush, “but that model rarely involves an institution of higher education. Most of the technical instruction (traditional model training) has been delivered through trade schools or a career center and is coupled with on-the-job training. ApprenticeOhio, however, works through higher education. The whole point behind this, from the U.S. Department of Labor on down, is to change the perception of what an apprenticeship program is while maintaining the integrity of the model.”

The state opted for this route to ensure the training provided met with strict standards, officials said. In fact, institutions are required to qualify in order to be a registered apprenticeship sponsor.

“In a registered apprenticeship program, the caliber of education is much higher, because you’re working with a sponsor that has to maintain strict standards established by its board of trustees and its accrediting body,” Roush explained. Additionally, being a Registered Apprentice is recognized by the Ohio Manufacturers Association as the gold standard for an apprenticeship program.

Roush identified several benefits to the apprenticeship program, including, improved skills and competencies that meet the specific needs of the employer; occupation-focused education; and competency-based wage increases.

As a registered apprenticeship sponsor, WSCC is authorized to annually reimburse up to $2,500 per employee — up to $1,750 in tuition and up to $750 toward fees, supplies, and books.

WSCC has two apprentice models approved — the corrections academy and a maintenance mechanic program. Roush is working to develop several other models.