All about Elgin Community College’s apprenticeship program

Ava Pollock, Staff Writer


This is the title slide for the ECC Apprenticeship Program presentation that was shown at the informational event that happened on 4/21/2022. Image provided by Apprenticeship & Compliance Coordinator Lisa Utley.

Elgin Community College’s Apprenticeship Program is continuing to give students who are looking to enter a specific field the skills, knowledge, and experience that they need to succeed in their planned field.

ECC’s apprenticeship opportunities are “learn while you earn.” This means that students work in the industry they are attending school for while getting paid.

“The importance of it is just getting that experience,” ECC’s Apprenticeship and Compliance Coordinator Lisa Utley said. “A lot of times; people come to school, they graduate, they get their degree, then they’re out looking for that job with the degree that they just earned. And they’re finding that employers are saying, ‘Well, you don’t have experience’, and that can get really frustrating.”

Students under the ECC Apprenticeship Program learn theories and ideas pertaining to their field of choice. They will be able to train under an expert in their industry, earn wages while learning, utilize what they have learned on the job for real-world experience and gather experience for the industry of their choice that others who haven’t taken the program may not have.

ECC Apprenticeship Program currently offers five programs, with a sixth being planned for the future. Those programs are Basic Nurse Assistant Training, Industrial Maintenance Technology, CNC Machining professional, Culinary and Firefighter/Paramedic.

The sixth program that is planned for the future is the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) program, although it is unknown when the program will be offered.

The Basic Nurse Assistant Training program offers apprentices to learn key elements of providing patient care. Employers hire apprentices to work in other areas of the facility as they’re completing their coursework to allow them to become familiar with the patients and organizational structure of the facility. Once apprentices complete the program, they will be prepared to take the certification exam. Apprentices will be guaranteed full-time work and they will be promoted to nurse assistants once they pass the exam.

Industrial Maintenance Technology (IST) and CNC Machining Professional programs offer students an opportunity to work with machines. However, the IST program involves learning how to perform maintenance on items while CNC Machining involves learning how to produce machines. Both programs involve a degree pathway. They are also offered in cooperation with the Industry Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (ICATT). With both programs, the apprentice will work towards an Associate of Applied Science degree pathway,

Through the Culinary program, students will learn all aspects of the cooking industry such as learning how to handle and effectively use a knife in the kitchen. The Culinary program has an Associate of Applied Science degree pathway, as well as a certificate program.

If students decide to take the Firefighter/Paramedic program, they will earn a full Associate of Applied Science Degree. This program works a little differently from the others. Once students acquire the required sponsorship, the firefighters will not pay for the tuition, books, etc. However, students can start training and learning before they graduate from the Fire Academy. They can also earn points for their testing application.

“They [the programs] were picked primarily for employer needs,” Utley said. “There’s a great need for skilled tradesmen in manufacturing such as the Maintenance-Technology and the CNC Machining. This is a great way to not only get people in the industry but also to get people exposed to these industries.”

Regarding the future HVAC program, it will also be a degree pathway. As of now, it’s going to be a full-time working and a part-time school structure. It will most likely take an apprentice three and a half years to get through the program.

If an ECC student wants to become an apprentice, they will have to follow these basic steps. They will first need to contact Utley, take a placement test, create or update their resume and then connect with employers looking to hire apprentices.

If the person seeking an apprenticeship is not an ECC student, they will have to follow slightly different steps. They will have to submit an online application for Elgin Community College and submit their high school or college transcripts. Then, they will have to take the required placement tests, create or update their resume and connect with potential employers.

The program has a lot of benefits such as paid on-the-job training, credentials that will follow students throughout their career, guaranteed employment, no college debt, experience and practice.