MVCC, local union join effort to provide educational pathway for workers

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UTICA — In an effort to help provide an educational pathway for members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local No. 43 union, the leaders of Mohawk Valley Community College, Alfred State College, Syracuse University and the National Electrical Contractors Association, have joined forces, detailing their plans in a joint announcement made earlier this week from Engler Electric, 609 Columbia St.

Historically, upon completion of the NECA/IBEW Local 43’s five-year, earn-and-learn training program, apprentices have become a recognized journeyworker but have not had any portable college credits.

Through this partnership, in addition to earning a journeyworker card, apprentices also receive an MVCC associate degree in occupational science degree at no cost—a SUNY-recognized credential allowing for streamlined, just-in-time, future educational experiences, according to officials.

Outlining the plan were: MVCC President Randall J. VanWagoner, Ph.D.; Alfred State College President Steven Mauro, Ph.D.; Dean of the College of Professional Studies from Syracuse University Michael J. Frasciello, Ph.D.; IBEW Local 43 Business Manager/Financial Secretary Alan Marzullo; and NECA President James Engler.

“Our coalition of diverse partners has constructed a first-of-its-kind, non-redundant, coherent pathway for highly skilled electrical workers to advance along the project management career ladder that fundamentally relies on a noncredit-to-credit pathway breaking the traditional mold of higher education and acting as an exemplar model, ripe to replicate,” VanWagoner said. 

While apprentices are completing their training program, they also have the opportunity to earn SU’s online Project Management certificate at a discounted rate. 

Upon completion of the apprenticeship program, individuals will have earned up to 79 credits which can seamlessly transfer into Alfred State College’s bachelor of business administration degree.

“Alfred State College is proud to partner with IBEW, MVCC, and Syracuse University to strengthen our long history of working with unions to create non-traditional pathways for career advances in the skilled trades,” said Mauro.

“As advances in technology continue, skilled tradespeople will require greater competencies. It is partnerships like this that will provide advanced training for our electrical technicians who wish to gain a workforce advantage and become managers and leaders in their trade. We look forward to continuing our tradition of providing local and regional industry with workforce-ready graduates.”

Also, by leveraging preexisting agreements that Alfred State has with MBA programs around the state, including one with Syracuse University, the pathway for the IBEW apprentices extends through an online professional degree.

Frasciello said, “Our partnership with MVCC, Alfred State, and the IBEW is the first of many collaborations that provide talented students with the opportunity to advance their careers while shaping the future of the electrical trades and the industries they serve. This partnership focuses three of the region’s leading academic institutions on developing the next generation of future-ready electrical trades professionals.”

Apprentices who follow this pathway can look forward to lucrative and stable careers in the business of electric work and project management and have flexibility to quickly upskill and pivot as career options present themselves.

IBEW’s Marzullo said, “This complex but highly synergistic partnership will enable IBEW Local 43 to further enhance the welfare of our members while maintaining perfect alignment to our steadfast commitment of providing the highest quality of skilled electricians to our contractors,” said Marzullo. “We have long provided college-level learning to our apprentices, and we are thrilled that our college partners have identified a mechanism to recognize this. There is now great congruity between organized labor training and higher education, and it is for the betterment of all.”

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