Employees participating in the IBM Software Engineering Apprenticeship Program can now earn college credits, which translates 12 months of on-the-job training into approximately three semesters of credits.

IBM is the latest company to be recognized by the American Board of Education’s University Credit Recommendation Service as part of its recently launched apprenticeship program, which allows apprentices from selected companies to obtain digital certificates that can be applied for Six participating institutions. The pilot project consists of Charles Koch Foundation, In line with the mission of ACE, which is to “create viable higher education learning pathways for people who are working,” said Louis Soares, chief learning and innovation officer of ACE. “When we created the land-grant college, we created an entire college system designed around applied learning to increase the needs of ordinary Americans. This is just an extension of this conversation.”

The apprenticeship system has attracted more and more attention in the nationwide efforts to create more fairness and opportunities for underserved people. The Trump administration made apprenticeships the core of its higher education training agenda, Highlight them As an alternative to expensive traditional institutions.Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives Pass legislation The aim is to establish more apprenticeships and promote partnerships between companies and universities.President Biden’s reconstruction is better Agenda Includes registered apprenticeships verified by state or federal authorities.

“Over the past four years or so, apprenticeship has received a lot of attention and energy,” said Sean Gallagher, executive director of Northeastern University’s Center for Future Higher Education and Talent Strategy. “We see them as an important model for broader work integration or experiential learning. Many of these models exist as opportunities for students to apply their knowledge in the workforce. But one of the important things about apprenticeship is that they are more They pay more attention to the work itself, so they are at the intersection of work and higher education.”

IBM’s software engineering apprenticeship program includes at least 200 hours of structured learning—now these learning is carried out entirely in virtual classrooms—and six to nine months of hands-on training, said Kelli Jordan, director of skills and careers. And performance in IBM.

Jordan said that the program not only benefits apprentices and society as a whole, but also makes IBM “probably more attractive to many candidates.” “Historically, people have always felt that there is one way and another: either go to school or find a job. Now they can actually cross these two bridges; they can learn with They can develop skills. If they really want to make an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree as part of their careers, they will have a huge advantage. “

Ivy Tech Community College has dozens of campuses in Indiana and is one of six institutions participating in the ACE pilot program. (The others are Bismarck State College, Excelsior College, Rowan University, Tidewater Community College, and California State University San Bernardino.) The administrators of Ivy Tech recently confirmed IBM’s plan, as well as the administrators of four other companies— —Microsoft LEAP, Tectonic, Wireless Infrastructure Association, and Electrical Training Alliance — Consider earning credits in their academic courses.

“Any credit for the previous learning that we crossed—we call it a’crosswalk’—is based on ability and results,” said Stacy Twombley, vice president of adult strategy and statewide partnerships at Ivy League University of Technology. “The apprenticeship program must meet at least 80% of the specific competency group.” Now it is up to teachers to review them and make sure they meet the standards, and Twombley expects this process to be completed by the end of November.

She said that ACE’s support for these projects has undoubtedly increased effectiveness-Gallagher emphasized this point: “Instead of asking IBM to go to multiple universities and ask them to translate [the apprenticeship] To earn credits and establish their own path with the university, they can go through an entity like ACE, which is respected and has established relationships with many colleges and universities. “

Starting next spring, ACE hopes to open the Apprenticeship Pathways program to other companies, charge fees, and increase partnerships with other two- and four-year universities.

But Artem Gulish, a senior policy strategist at the Center for Education and Workforce at Georgetown University, believes that it needs to get bigger to make a real impact. Only about 5% of American workers participate in apprenticeships. “Historically, it has been difficult for this type of initiative to scale up,” he said. “Basically, every administration since Clinton has expressed support for registered apprenticeship, or has done something to support apprenticeship, but in fact, the way the American labor market is organized makes it difficult because it is very fragmented , People move from company to company. Therefore, usually only certain types of industries can take advantage of it.”

IBM hopes that software engineering is just the first of its “earning while learning” programs where its employees can apply for college credits. “We have 25 different tracks,” Jordan said. “We are internally taking our cybersecurity and data science tracks as the next track to assess potential.”

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