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West Virginia colleges partner for apprenticeships

MORGANTOWN — A partnership will allow apprentices to further their skills and education through a new associate degree program in West Virginia

The partnership is between West Virginia University, WVU Potomac State College, WVU Extension Service Institute for Labor Studies and Research, the West Virginia Carpenters Training Center and the West Virginia State Building and Construction Trades Council

Beginning this coming spring, registered apprentices in the carpenters training program will become part of the Apprenticeship Pathway Associate Degree Program offered through WVU Potomac State College. The program will be available at the West Virginia Carpenters Training Center’s three locations in Parkersburg, Charleston and Bridgeport.

“We are very excited about this partnership and greatly appreciate the opportunity to expand our educational outreach in support of the WVU system’s land-grant mission. We are looking forward to working with the well-regarded registered apprenticeship programs among the affiliates of the West Virginia Building and Construction Trades Council,” WVU Potomac State College President Jennifer Orlikoff said.

As apprentices progress through their training programs, they will simultaneously earn an associate degree. WVU courses covering effective communications, computer science, and building trades history and culture will supplement the technical training participants receive during their apprenticeship training programs enhancing those skills required for positions in today’s ever-changing construction workforce.

Upon completion of the Carpenters’ registered apprenticeship program, participants will also hold an Associate of Applied Science in technical studies with a major in carpentry technology from WVU Potomac State College. This enhanced education and training will make the apprentices more valuable to employers in the construction industry, as well as adding value to the training available through the Carpenters’ organization.

“Programs like our new Apprenticeship Pathway are an exciting option for today’s students,” Maryanne Reed, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said. “This new partnership will offer a balanced blend of relevant, hands-on work experience and liberal arts coursework that employer’s value and that help move industry forward.”

Sam White, professor in WVU Extension Service’s Institute for Labor Studies and Research, will be director of the Apprenticeship Pathway Degree Program.

“West Virginia’s registered apprenticeship programs in construction already provide some of the best training available for the industry in the state and we are excited about the opportunity to add value to these programs with this degree for the apprentices, their organizations, and their employers,” White said.

Initially, the program will be available to apprentices in the West Virginia Carpenters Training program. However, the partners hope to develop craft-specific degree majors for all registered apprenticeship programs affiliated with the West Virginia State Building and Construction Trades Council.

“WVU recognizes the value of apprenticeship training and with this program is taking it to the next level by incorporating an associate degree,” Jeremy Jeffers, West Virginia director of apprenticeship for the carpenters, said. “This is not only a great value to the individual apprentice, but it also helps our local businesses get the skilled and productive workforce they need.”

The program will be free to apprentices based on current state-funding opportunities, such as the West Virginia Invests Grant program. For more information on the Apprenticeship Pathway degree program, contact Sam White, 304 293-3109 at swwhite@mail.wvu.edu.

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