AWD Students working on a car
ASCC Apprenticeship/Workforce Development (AWD) students, such as those seen here, now have the option of earning the qualification of Registered Apprentice. AWD courses in the professions of Automotive Technician, Carpenter or Welder can count towards a Registered Apprenticeship. (Courtesy Photo)

ASCC-AWD Courses Upgraded and Approved by USDOL for Registered Apprenticeship

February 9, 2015

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

Courses in the Apprenticeship/Workforce Development (AWD) program offered by the Trades & Technology Division (TTD) of the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) are certified by the US Department of Labor (USDOL). Now, with new revisions approved by the USDOL, AWD courses in the professions of Automotive Technician, Carpenter or Welder can count towards a Registered Apprenticeship. Currently, participants in the late afternoon/early evening AWD courses, many of whom are working professionals seeking to increase their skill levels, work towards a Certificate of Completion for each individual course, which is accepted by the USDOL. By contrast, a Registered Apprenticeship certification indicates the completion of an entire training program in a particular area of expertise, after which the participant receives a Certificate of Completion of Apprenticeship conferred by USDOL to become a journeyman.

Under federal policies, courses for an Apprenticeship program are reviewed and approved by the Office of Apprenticeship under USDOL to meet the requirements for Related Technical Instruction (RTI) contact hours. The RTI contact hours and number of courses are requirements for a specific program to be a part of a Registered Apprenticeship. The actual apprenticeship consists of both classroom instruction and on-the-job experience. A Registered Apprenticeship is an arrangement between a worker, the AWD, and an employer who signs a Standard of Apprenticeship agreement for one employee or more to take the training (at least 2 to 4 years or more based on the occupation) to gain the necessary skill sets at a journeyman level.

“The acceptance by the USDOL Office of Apprenticeship is a monumental step for ASCC in becoming an Educational Provider delivering an approved RTI phase for the apprenticeship training, and engaging potential employers and sponsors in Registered Apprenticeship programs in the Territory,” said AWD Coordinator and Automotive instructor Fred Suisala. “This is a major step in training highly qualified craftsmen in the local workforce and reducing the dependency on foreign workers.” The AWD Registered Apprenticeship courses in Automotive Technology, Carpentry and Welding are now recognized, approved and accepted by the USDOL Office of Apprenticeship in San Francisco CA, and Suisala said that the TTD will upgrade in stages the AWD courses in other areas of technology and the trades.

The upgrading of the AWD courses means that another 10 contact hours have been added to the existing 40 to meet USDOL Office of Apprenticeship RTI contact hour requirements. The AWD has also extended its three yearly “sessions” from 8 weeks to 10 as a means of implementing the course upgrades. Implementing these changes has necessitated a tuition increase from $240 per course to $300. “With more RTI contact hours per course, we can ensure a more thorough coverage of the content areas,” explained Suisala.

Since its re-launch in October 2013, the AWD has awarded an average of 57 Certificates of Completion per session. In the first year of resumed AWD training, 31 of its participants have found employment in the public and private sectors. “We use the number of participants who find jobs as our yard stick to measure our implementation, execution and structure,” reflected Suisala. While at the moment only the Automotive Technician, Carpentry and Welding programs in the AWD are now USDOL-approved as Registered Apprenticeship programs, Suisala said that a similar upgrade will soon come in the area of Electrical Technology, with Information Technology and Architectural Drafting to similarly follow suit.

For more information on the Apprenticeship/Workforce Development or Registered Apprenticeship programs, contact Fred Suisala at 699-9155, extension 353, or Juliet F.C. Pen at extension 472.