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New Penn College degree designed for apprentices

Apprentices throughout the nation can enhance their career potential by completing a new degree at Pennsylvania College of Technology that augments their technical expertise.

To be offered in Fall 2022, the apprenticeship technology major at Penn College leads to an associate degree for those who have completed a registered apprenticeship program or are currently enrolled in one. The 22 credits of general education and career development coursework culminating in the degree can be taken in person or online and be completed in two semesters.

“This degree is a significant addition to Penn College’s academic portfolio,” said Bradley M. Webb, dean of engineering technologies. “We believe it’s the only one of its kind in Pennsylvania and one of a few such programs in the nation.

“It recognizes the resurgence of apprenticeship programs and provides apprentices with a clear pathway to a degree that complements their technical acumen with core classes emphasizing communication, collaboration, critical and quantitative thinking, and technological literacy. The degree will enhance their career prospects and bolster their earning potential.”

The demand for skilled workers in multiple industries has spurred the growth of registered apprenticeships, programs that have been validated by the U.S. Department of Labor or a state apprenticeship agency. Such apprenticeships typically require employees to complete a couple years’ worth of on-the-job training and related classroom instruction – all paid by the employer. Portable industry credentials are usually awarded upon completion of an apprenticeship.

According to the latest figures from the Labor Department, there are more than 600,000 apprentices nationwide participating in nearly 26,000 registered apprenticeship programs. Last year, 3,143 new apprenticeship programs were established, a 73% increase from 2009 levels.

Applicants for the Penn College apprenticeship technology associate degree must have completed or be enrolled in a registered apprenticeship that consists of at least two years (4,000 hours) of on-the-job training and 288 hours of related technical instruction.

“We chose those minimums because they align with the academically rigorous apprenticeships offered by Workforce Development at Penn College,” Webb said.

Workforce Development organizes, registers and executes apprenticeships for companies of all sizes and customizes programs to meet industry needs. Workers targeted by current apprenticeships offered through Workforce Development include mechatronics technicians, CNC machinists, robotics and automation maintenance technicians, and plastics process technicians.

“Penn College has a rich history of providing apprenticeship opportunities for a wide variety of industries and employees,” said Shannon M. Munro, vice president for workforce development. “We’ve witnessed firsthand the tremendous value and opportunities afforded by registered apprenticeships. The new degree option is a welcome addition. It will allow workers to empower their career development without duplicating the technical experience gained during the on-the-job training portion of their apprenticeship.”

Once accepted for the apprenticeship technology major, students are awarded 39 credits for their work completed during the apprenticeship. The remaining 22 credits required for the degree include courses such as math, English, perspective classes in the arts and sciences, and an apprenticeship technology capstone.

“We believe graduates of the program will most likely seek out supervisor roles in their particular technical area,” Webb said. “They will also be well-positioned to obtain a bachelor’s degree in applied management or applied technology with just an additional two years of study at Penn College.”

For more on the apprenticeship technology associate degree, visit www.pct.edu/ap.

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