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Wilmington University and Dept. of Labor to offer college credits for registered apprenticeships

Wilmington University launches a new program with the Department of Labor that gives college credits for apprenticeship experience.

Select apprenticeship programs registered with the Department of Labor are eligible to count for up to 42 college credits towards a bachelor’s degree at WilmU as part of the Smart Transfer Enrollment Program, or “STEP Path.”

Labor Department Deputy Director Rachel Turney says this program is a great option for entrepreneurs.

“A lot of times in the construction trades, they are a skilled craftsperson, and they may take that skill and say ‘I’m going to open my own business now,'" Turney says. "And I think there’s a lot of education and training that goes in to learning that skill, but when you own a business, there is a whole other skill set that one might want to seek a formal education to pursue.”

Turney adds this not only helps existing workers, but the pipeline – eliminating the decision between college and the workforce.

“If you are interested in the construction trades, if you’re are interested in a different post-secondary education, this is an option," she says. "And you won’t lose time if you want to later in life pursue a degree.”

Past and current apprenticeship graduates are eligible upon completion of their apprenticeship.

WilmU Senior Director of Academic Partnerships Lindsay Rice says most registered apprenticeships in the state are around construction.

“And there is certainly a shortage of foremen and managers in the construction industry, there’s a retirement cliff that is occurring, so certainly this provides a great opportunity for individuals to receive construction management education that might help current folks in the trades to elevate themselves into that position," Rice says.

But apprenticeships in fields like education, culinary, electrical and auto are also eligible for the pathway.

Rice adds the cost savings are significant for people in the program – 42 credits add up to about three semesters worth of classes and apprenticeships are free. He notes employers can leverage this opportunity with employees to help retain existing talent too.

Rachel Sawicki was born and raised in Camden, Delaware and attended the Caesar Rodney School District. They graduated from the University of Delaware in 2021 with a double degree in Communications and English and as a leader in the Student Television Network, WVUD and The Review.