New Jersey Governor / AFL-CIO Initiate
June 26, 2004
The IBEW has played a vital role in the development of a program to qualify New Jersey building trades apprentices for college credit for work-related knowledge and skills. The program, announced by Governor James E. McGreevey at the New Jersey AFL-CIO Conference in June, covers seven trades, comprising more than 5,000 active apprentices and thousands of journeymen.
The plan will make New Jersey one of the leading states in the nation to honor apprenticeship credits toward graduation requirements at public colleges and universities. Community colleges would apply the credits to Associate in Applied Science degrees. Senior colleges and universities would apply them to Bachelors degrees.
Governor McGreevey links the program to the future economic progress of New Jersey. He says: "To succeed in todays economy, each worker must make education and training a lifelong pursuit...In the past 12 months weve created twice as many jobs as any other Northeastern state. Our investments in the workforce--in programs that give every worker a chance to build her or his career--are a key part of that success."
Teaming up to design the program were the State Department of Labor; the New Jersey AFL-CIO; the State Employment and Training Commission; the State Department of Education; and other representatives of the Garden States education and labor communities.
Earlier this year, the Building and Construction Trades of New Jersey established a Statewide Training Directors Committee. Dave Milazzo, President and Training Director of IBEW Local 164, was elected chairman of the committee and participated in developmental sessions on the new program. "Local 164 initiated its college credit program 22 years ago when we entered into an articulation agreement in 1982 with both Bergen Community College and Thomas A. Edison College," Milazzo said. "Our Associates in Applied Science for Electrical Technology degree program is being used as the state-wide model for similar Building and Construction Trades Programs currently under development. Local 164 was the first construction local in the State of New Jersey and one of the first in the nation to have such a program."
Milazzo salutes Governor McGreevey for initiating this program. "Its long overdue. New Jerseys Building and Construction Trades Unions have outstanding apprenticeship training programs and its about time weve been recognized for the quality training we provide our members." Milazzo sees the program as way to build labors respect in the community: "Its important for the general public to remember that union-sponsored training programs are funded through collective bargaining agreements and are not a burden to taxpayers".
A press release from the office of Governor McGreevey underscores the importance of construction jobs in the state: "There is no question that New Jerseys construction industry is a source of rewarding jobs. The industry generates billions of dollars and employed 164,000 workers in 2003. Construction jobs paid between $899 and $988 per week. During this decade, different parts of the industry are expected to grow in employment from 6.5 percent to 11.9 percent. The median annual wage for all jobs in New Jersey is $32,011, while the median wage for construction jobs is $44,458."
New Jersey sees the growth in construction jobs as an opportunity to reshape traditional assumptions about learning and education.
New Jersey Labor Commissioner Albert G. Kroll says: "In our current system, the distinction between academic and vocational education is misleading. The time has come to create new bridges, rather than maintain old barriers, between college level knowledge acquired through apprenticeship training and the course offerings of New Jerseys institutions of higher learning."
The seven trades initially participating in the new program include electrical workers (IBEW); plumbers and pipefitters (UA); air conditioning and refrigeration workers (UA); carpenters (IBC), telecommunications technology workers (IBEW) and operating engineers (IUOE). Other trades will be covered in the future.
The American Council on Educations College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE) will carefully monitor the curriculum, teaching objectives and assessment tools of participating apprenticeships. ACE is a nationally recognized authority in evaluating non- traditional learning programs for college-level equivalency.