Apprenticeships Manufacturing Workforce

A Bridge to College Credits

New Jersey Registered Apprenticeship Program

Manufacturers throughout New Jersey now have access to the NJMEP Pro-Action Education Network™ and its Registered Apprenticeship program. NJMEP, in partnership with Essex County Community College, developed a pathway for employees in the NJMEP apprenticeship program to obtain college credit and enroll in college after graduation at no charge. 

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New Jersey has a rich history of advanced manufacturing. It’s easy access to ports and infrastructure along with the dense, highly educated population once made the state the ideal spot for manufacturers to open their doors. However, that highly educated and skilled labor force recently began to dwindle to a point where finding new hires is a top concern for nearly all of these businesses. With the current workforce nearing retirement, New Jersey manufacturers need a way to increase employee loyalty while also upskilling their staff to fill the shoes of workers getting ready to retire. NJMEP’s Registered Apprenticeship program is an ideal solution. Recently, NJMEP partnered with Essex County Community College to offer college credits for the time employees spend in the program. 

The Bridge to College Credits – NJ Manufacturing Workforce Development

Those enrolled in the NJMEP Industrial Manufacturing Production Technician Registered Apprenticeship Program can continue their education in Essex’s A.A.S in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Technology program. Apprentices are eligible to earn up to 8 credits through their time with NJMEP and will have direct access to Essex County Community College upon graduation from the Registered Apprenticeship program. 

The program Essex County Community College designed, in partnership with NJMEP, focuses specifically on education that will be applicable to the day-to-day work of a manufacturing production technician. Because of the education provided by the NJMEP Registered Apprenticeship program and their on-the-job training and experience, the Associate’s program is accelerated. Instead of 62 total credits to receive a degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Technology, apprentices will potentially only need to complete a total of 50 credits. General education credits from other community colleges are applicable to further accelerate the program as well. 

Classes include Electronic Circuits: DC and AC, Technical Writing, Statistics for Technology, Machines and Controls or Computer Numeric Control, advanced mathematics and even more relevant fields of study. 

These classes are credited after successful completion of the NJMEP Registered Apprenticeship Program. Thanks to the Community College Opportunity Grant (CCOG), if an individual makes less than $65,000 a year, they can enroll in Essex Community College at no charge. 

For employees to contribute more to their companies, Essex County Community College has a partnership and is offering students access to NJIT. After acquiring an Associates’s degree, students can begin working toward a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering Technology. Students will be immediately accepted into NJIT where they can work on this degree related to their field. NJIT recently invested $50 million into an advanced manufacturing innovation center where students can get hands-on with the latest manufacturing technology to further bolster their understanding of the industry and their trade.

To ensure this program is beneficial for both employers and students, Essex County Community College put in the time and effort to work with NJMEP in designing a curriculum and schedule that will meet employer needs. Classes can be taken together as a Cohort so apprentices can remain in their Registered Apprenticeship group to continue collaborating and working together to succeed throughout their schooling. Course schedules can be built around the Cohort’s work schedule to avoid any interruptions to their full-time job. Furthermore, Essex County Community College will work with the students to lay out a roadmap to graduation. 

Workforce Development and its impact on NJ Manufacturers

New Jersey has a robust manufacturing, logistics, and STEM presence. These companies are on the forefront of progress. Yet the lack of a talent pipeline and the difficulty of training current employees to prepare for the next levels of employment or succession planning is holding industry back. Workforce development is absolutely critical in order for New Jersey to maintain its competitive edge and keep these economically boosting industries moving forward. Without a talent pipeline to depend on, the programs to help upskill a workforce, and the right partners to assist New Jersey businesses to continue thriving well into the future, companies will be stuck struggling to overcome the Skills Gap on their own. NJMEP is providing a way to alleviate these challenges for businesses throughout the Garden State. 

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