JJC Recipient of Apprenticeships Grant to Boost Labor Force

Joliet Junior College has received a three-year, $140,000 grant to grow registered apprenticeships for students and aid the local workforce.

JJC is one of only five Illinois community colleges and over 100 participants nationwide in the Expanding Community College Apprenticeships (ECCA) initiative. It is led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), with funding from the U.S. Department of Labor. The goal is to increase registered apprentice programs and services throughout the country, training 16,000 apprentices over three years.

Apprenticeships are employer-sponsored programs that allow students to simultaneously earn wages and valuable on-the-job skills within a particular field. The programs can be for one year, and some span multiple years, helping students become fully proficient in their work.

Amy Murphy, JJC dean of applied arts, workforce education and training, is overseeing the project that began on July 1.  

“Receiving these funds provides a tremendous opportunity to help industry establish apprenticeship programs,” said Murphy. “As the Department of Labor website states, ‘Recruiting, training, and retaining talent is the most important thing employers do. The apprenticeship model allows employers to take charge of building their own pipeline of highly-skilled and highly-motivated workers.’ Joliet Junior College is committed to working with industry partners to provide the educational component to these apprenticeship programs."

Murphy added the college’s goal is to use the grant funds to assist companies in designing a program that aligns with their specific needs, and to educate students about the benefits of becoming an apprentice. JJC intends to serve 150 people over the term of the grant, with a focus on apprentice programs in hospitality, culinary arts, landscape management, transportation, and manufacturing.

JJC has a rich history of developing quality programs for incumbent industry employees and has numerous partnerships that provide work-based, paid learning opportunities for current students.

“As the baby-boomer population prepares to retire over the next five to 10 years, it is critical to prepare the workforce with classroom educational learning as well as applying the skills in the workplace,” said Murphy. “Partnering with industry to provide apprenticeships will provide an ideal balance between theory and work-related experience.”

“Apprenticeship is a successful talent development method that effectively meets the needs of both employers and job-seekers. AACC is excited to partner with JJC to help expand registered apprenticeship opportunities in Illinois.” Cheryl Olson, AACC executive director of apprenticeships.

For media inquiries, contact JJC Communications and Media Coordinator Scott Harvey at 815-280-2844 or sharvey@jjc.edu.