Tools you can use: Virtual Apprenticeship Network

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

A new resource for expanding registered apprenticeships is now online

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has developed a Virtual Apprenticeship Network (VAN) Toolkit with the goal of expanding registered apprenticeships through community colleges with their partners.

VAN includes best practices from more than 60 community colleges that have been involved in the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Expanding Community College Apprenticeship (ECCA) Initiative.

Through the work of the ECCA initiative, AACC concluded that while high-quality tools about registered apprenticeships for community colleges exist, few are compiled and organized specifically for community colleges. AACC has identified, organized and, where necessary, created or customized tools for rapid adoption by community colleges.

Sections provide information on implementing a registered apprenticeship program, managing and sustaining the program, and using effective messaging to show the value of the program.

There’s information about gauging the college’s readiness to adopt a registered apprenticeship program and calculating the return on investment. And there’s information on increasing diversity in apprenticeships and tracking data and outcomes.

The tools were built to showcase relevant programs across a myriad of community settings, occupational sectors and partners and governance structures.

The effective messaging section, for example, has information for how to talk about apprenticeship programs to college boards, political leaders, community members, faculty and more.

One of the many college case studies in the section highlights how the use of key partnerships and targeted outreach strategies helped the Los Angeles City College Apprenticeship Initiative successfully engage and serve both apprentices and employers and build impactful relationships during uncertain times. Student outreach involved identification of key collaborators, such as department faculty, critical in bridging the gap between the program and students. Collaborators were instrumental in identifying a pool of qualified student applicants.

To engage employers, LACC took part in virtual events, like Employer Roundtable. That connected the Apprenticeship Initiative to the larger LACC network, the mayor’s office network, local work source centers and local apprenticeship programs. Those connections led to more personalized and transparent communication with employers, and one-on-one conversations.

As of August 2020, the Apprenticeship Initiative had successfully partnered with MEIRXRS to place students in their food quality inspection apprenticeship.

That’s just one of many college promising practices captured in VAN.

All of these tools have been vetted by the AACC Advisory Board on Community College Apprenticeships, which is a national group of community college executives and associated stakeholders including industry partners.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.