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QCC Holds Inaugural Apprenticeship Conference

December 2022
  • QCC's Director of Apprenticeship Expansion Mari Cooney
    QCC's Director of Apprenticeship Expansion Mari Cooney
  • From left: QCC Vice President of External Affairs Viviana Abreu-Hernandez, Executive Director of 1199 SEIU Training and Employme
    From left: QCC Vice President of External Affairs Viviana Abreu-Hernandez, Executive Director of 1199 SEIU Training and Employment Funds Sandi Vito, Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta, and Executive Vice President of Competency-Based Education Network Dr. Amber Garrison Duncan
  • From left: Executive Vice President of Competency-Based Education Network Dr. Amber Garrison Duncan, Quinsigamond Community Coll
    From left: Executive Vice President of Competency-Based Education Network Dr. Amber Garrison Duncan, Quinsigamond Community College President Dr. Luis G. Pedraja, Mount Wachusett Community College President Dr. James Vander Hooven, Bunker Hill Community College President Dr. Pam Eddinger

In honor of National Apprenticeship Week, Quinsigamond Community College gathered innovators in the field of apprenticeships, as well as industry professionals for its inaugural Apprenticeship Conference, “When Old Is New Again: Expanding Apprenticeships in Massachusetts,” on Wednesday, November 16, 2022, held at the AC Hotel in Worcester.

The daylong event included speakers U.S. Department of Labor Region 1 Director Bernard Treml, Office of Apprenticeships; Worcester City Manager Eric Batista, State Senator Robyn Kennedy, Worcester Business Journal Editor Brad Kane, and three moderated panels that addressed the importance of apprenticeship programs, and the powerful impact apprenticeships can have on the region and our economy.

Massachusetts Secretary of Labor and Workforce Development Rosalin Acosta, along with Executive Director of 1199 SEIU Training and Employment Funds, Sandi Vito, and Executive Vice President of Competency-Based Education Network, Dr. Amber Garrison Duncan spoke on the importance of including wrap-around services with apprenticeship programs. They discussed issues such as affordable housing and childcare as essential components to remain competitive in retaining and recruiting a skilled workforce.

Secretary Acosta noted that Massachusetts is expanding its investment into apprenticeship programs.

“Not only have we diversified the industries that participate in apprenticeship programs, but we’ve also increased Black, Latino, and women participants,” she said.

Having long been known as a common way to start a career in a trade such as plumbing or electrical, apprenticeships have evolved into a modern-day employer-driven, “learn-while-you-earn” model that provides apprentices with on-the-job training provided by an employer, coupled with an educational program component. Industries such as advanced manufacturing, hospitality, healthcare, financial services, early childhood education and information technology are all growing industries that are benefiting from apprenticeship programs. 

“If there’s one word to describe why we should support apprenticeships, it’s ‘disruption,’” said Dean of Center for Workforce Development and Continuing Education Kathie Manning. “Change is the new normal and the traditional model of employment isn’t effective anymore. Today’s workforce wants more flexibility, and they want to learn new skills and be challenged.”

QCC President Dr. Luis G. Pedraja expounded on the disruption that many have experienced over the last few years, in a panel discussion with Bunker Hill Community College President Dr. Pam Eddinger and Mount Wachusett Community College President Dr. James Vander Hooven.

“The partnership between industry and higher education is more important than ever,” Pedraja said, adding, “Apprenticeships allow people to earn wages while they are improving their skills. This is especially helpful to underserved populations.”

During the Apprenticeships in Action panel discussion, panelist Marko Duffy, an employer representative of the manufacturing Industry, addressed the success of employee Jessica González, who is completing an apprenticeship through the Northeast Advanced Manufacturing Consortium.

“It’s raised the level of quality in our work and has also been inspirational for other employees. I want to run the kind of company where people stay,” Duffy said.

“I’ve been out of school for a long time, so I was nervous at first, but the format was flexible, and the people were great. I’ve learned so much,” González added.

“With programs like these we are not just growing our workforce, we are also supporting the continued success of our workforce,” said Massachusetts State Senator Elect Robyn Kennedy.

To learn more about education and apprenticeships, email QCC’s Director of Apprenticeship Expansion, Mari Cooney, at mcooney [at] qcc.mass.edu.

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