Vermont Tech’s Apprenticeship Program Sets an Example

30 Sep 2022

With workforce shortages across the nation, the Vermont State Colleges System is working to provide more apprenticeships to students.

Vermont Technical College is just one school in the state with programs placing students in apprenticeships.

The school said with current workforce shortages, these programs are getting even more popular.

“The old adage was ‘go to college to get a good job’ and that just has not been providing enough workers for these manufacturers,” said Dr. Jeffrey Higgins, a professor at Vermont Tech.

Higgins said companies like GE Aviation have had to flip the narrative.

“Now it’s ‘get a good job to go to college!” Higgins said. “So, they’re being hired by the companies, working full time, filling an immediate need, but then they’re being educated to become leaders inside that company.”

This year, Vermont Tech had over 40 students graduate from GE Aviation’s Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship Programs.

“The biggest benefit about apprenticeship is that you learn and earn at the same time,” said Patricia Moulton, executive director of Vermont State Colleges System’s workforce development division.

Moulton said the Vermont State Colleges System is trying to add even more apprenticeship programs across the state.

“They’re not just sitting in class,” Moulton said. “They’re taking what they are learning in lecture and then applying it in the lab immediately, within the same day or the next day. So, they get that context of why algebra matters, why calculus matters, those types of things.”

This dual education and experience benefit is particularly useful at the end of Vermont Tech’s program.

“Their capstone project in the program must solve a real-world problem inside the plant,” Higgins said.

But Higgins said to do that, students need to use a lot more than just technical skills.

“That requires teamwork, critical thinking skills, communication skills, their technical skills, and then presentation skills because when they’re done, they perform a presentation in front of the leadership team about their project,” Higgins said.

If they do well, those plans are then implemented at GE Aviation, while also preparing students for a future in engineering, no matter where they work.

As published by NBC5 September 28, 2022