Middlesex County College awarded grants to expand apprenticeships

Rebecca Nowalski

Middlesex County College (MCC) is a partner in two New Jersey consortiums that were awarded U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) grants, one to support apprenticeship programs for students in allied health certificate programs, and the other for those in advanced manufacturing.

“One of this administration’s top priorities is to build a future workforce that is skilled, nimble, and responsive to employers’ needs,” New Jersey Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo said in a statement provided by MCC. “There is no better way to do that than through apprenticeship. We are so proud of the work being done by our Office of Apprenticeship and the USDOL’s New Jersey Office of Apprenticeship as we build capacity among our industry partners and engage more young workers in the viable career path of apprenticeship.”

These two Scaling Apprenticeship Through Sector-Based Strategies grants, totaling $16 million, will provide apprenticeships for more than 6,600 individuals and will serve to expand New Jersey community colleges’ efforts to build career pathways that are driven by the needs of the state’s key industries, according to the statement. Apprenticeship programs combine classroom education and training with work experience, and are developed and implemented in close partnership with employers.

The first grant, totaling $12 million, was awarded to a consortium of 15 community colleges in New Jersey led by Bergen Community College. MCC will receive funding to support students in Allied Health certificate programs offering apprenticeship opportunities and pathways to academic credit. Programs include Medical Assistant, Medical Billing and Coding, Pharmacy Technician, Certified Nursing Assistant, Community Health Worker, Phlebotomy, EKG, and Patient Care Technician. Partners include CVS Health; RWJ Barnabas Health System and five other healthcare entities; the NJ Health Care Industry Association, representing long-term care facilities; District Council Local 1199J health care union; NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development; New Jersey Workforce Development Boards; Garden State Employment and Training Association; and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges.

Roseann Bucciarelli, dean of Continuing Education at MCC, noted in the statement that the health grant will allow students to attend for free or low-cost, depending on their income; transportation and child care costs may also be covered. A grant-funded success coach will work directly with participants. She said participants may also receive a stipend for their apprenticeships and earn college credit, according to the statement

“Pathways to further education mean pathways to a career,” she said.

The second, the Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Grant, for $4 million, was awarded to a consortium of eight New Jersey community colleges led by the County College of Morris. Partners include the German American Chamber of Commerce, Siemens, UPS, and five advanced manufacturing firms.

In addition to support for apprenticeship opportunities in credit programs, MCC will receive funding for the development of certificate programs leading to apprenticeship opportunities, including Electro-Mechanical Technician, Certified Production Technician, and Supply Chain Management/Logistics.

These grants will serve as a cornerstone for broader efforts in New Jersey’s community colleges to build Career and Credential Pathway Collaboratives in the health care and advanced manufacturing industries. These collaboratives will bring community colleges, employers, high schools, colleges and universities, labor unions, workforce agencies, and other partners together to identify the common needs of employers, to map existing programs and pathways and to build new pathways in response to industry needs. Each collaborative will coordinate closely with state government agencies and will work closely with the New Jersey Apprenticeship Network, ensuring that work and learn models are incorporated into pathways, according to the statement.

Zakiya Smith Ellis, New Jersey’s secretary of Higher Education, said the grants will provide significant opportunities for students.

“All students in New Jersey should have access to engage in work outside of the classroom related to their field of study, and apprenticeships give students meaningful exposure to build skills that prepare them for success after graduation,” she said in the statement. “We’re excited that New Jersey has multiple grant recipients to continue to expand experiential learning opportunities for students to work with potential employers. Students, employers, and the state economy will benefit from this innovative collaboration.”