Carpenters can turn apprentice training into a college degree

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Beginning in January, apprentices who graduate from a Carpenters’ training program in the North Central States Region will get more than a pay raise and a promotion to journey-level status. They can also apply their training directly toward a two-year college degree.

Graduating apprentices will have more than 70 percent of the credits they need for an Associate in Applied Science degree in Apprenticeship Technology, under a new agreement with Hennepin Technical College.

Planning for the future
The degree recognizes the education that apprentices now receive, responds to the growing role that formal education plays in the workforce, and gives North Central States Regional Council members a head-start toward pursuing a managerial role later in their career, said apprenticeship director Paul Trudeau, of Carpenters Local 87.

Pursuing the degree is not mandatory, but is a great option, he said. “I may not feel I want to go into college today, but 10 years from now, maybe I see a value in going back to school. Well, I already have 47 components built in.

“So now, if I want to move into a managerial position, or maybe I get hurt, or feel my body is going to wear out, this will help.

“You don’t just step into those and think it’s going to be a piece of cake, because it’s not going to be,” Trudeau said. “You’re going to have to have some education on how to deal with people. You’re going to have to know how to read and write documents. You’re going to have to know math to a certain level, and you’re going to have to know how an organization or business operates and functions.”

How the credits stack up
For a Carpenter who completes the Regional Council apprenticeship program, the degree will be available from any campus in the Minnesota State Colleges and University system, Trudeau said.

Graduating apprentices will receive 47 credits for the classroom instruction and 7,000 hours of training and on-the-job experience they gain in the apprenticeship program. They will need only 19 more credits to complete the degree.

Of those 19 credits, 13 come from four required classes; the remaining six credits are general education electives.

Members of the Regional Council will have options on how and where to take the 19 credits:
• If there is enough enrollment, Hennepin Tech will offer courses at a Regional Council training center.
• Members can take courses at the MnSCU campus closest to where they live or work.
• Some courses will be available online.

The current program applies only to apprentices who have completed Carpenters training. However, the apprenticeship program is negotiating a similar arrangement for Millwrights.

Adapted from the December 2007 issue of North Country Carpenter, which is edited by Michael Kuchta. Used with permission.