ARCHBOLD — Custom Training Solutions (CTS), the workforce division of Northwest State Community College, has been officially recognized as a Standards Recognition Entity (SRE) by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Apprenticeship. NSCC was one of nine organizations nationwide to recently earn this honor, and currently only one of 23 across the country. The approval is good for a five-year period.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, SREs are “third-party and workforce leaders that will evaluate and recognize high-quality IRAPs consistent with the department’s standards. Upon recognition, SREs can immediately begin to work with employers and other entities to establish, recognize, and monitor high-quality (industry recognized apprenticeship programs) that provide apprentices with industry-recognized credentials.”

Tori Atkinson, NSCC director of workforce and apprenticeships, noted “a typical registered apprenticeship program has time requirements depending on the occupation, such as an electrician is typically a four- to five-year program with 8,000-10,000 hours of on-the-job training (2,000 per year). A machinist was a three- to four-year program. Now, employers can choose what role they establish an apprenticeship program in. If they do not need a full machinist, they can choose to start an apprenticeship for CNC programmers, those who work the mill or the lathe only. It provides great flexibility. The idea behind this is to establish apprenticeship programs in occupations that you do not typically see them in.”

Atkinson mentioned that these IRAPs will accelerate apprenticeships, meet employer needs in our area, and bridge the skills gap in numerous labor fields. There are health care IRAPs in different parts of the country, for example.

While the SRE recognition is a great honor, the work is just beginning for CTS. Atkinson noted her team needs to develop a handbook, create forms and tracking processes.

“We are putting together an executive board that will review all applications for IRAP that we receive,” said Atkinson. “These individuals are industry experts in fields such as electro-mechanical maintenance, tool and die, robotics, engineering, machine repair and welding. It will be the work of this group of experts to approve and monitor all IRAPs that we receive.”

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