Education, business partnership ‘amazing’

When education and business come together, the results can be amazing. Together, institutions and corporations can benefit the economy of their region and better prepare people for the workforce. The apprenticeship program formed between Branco Enterprises, Inc. And Crowder College is an example of what two entities can accomplish together.

On July 27, the Missouri Community College Association selected Branco as the recipient of the association’s 2016 Distinguished Business and Industry award forth apprenticeship program they started with Crowder College in the fall semester of 2015. Branco approached Crowder about the partnership earlier in the year. During that time, Crowder had being looking to join the Registered Apprenticeship-College Consortium, and needed an industry partner to finish the process.

Branco has had an apprenticeship program since 1993, but partnering with Crowder allowed them to provide actual college credit, as well as the federal certification for carpentry. This idea of obtaining college credit and a training certificate at the same time is the first of its kind in the nation, according to Branco’s marketing coordinator, Brennan Robinson.

Robinson said the inspiration for the program came from Branco’s philosophy of “growing their own employees. “It is a win-win situation. The employees can take the certified carpenter certificate anywhere in the country and it is valid, so it is a win for them,” he said. “It is obviously win for us because our employees are trained correctly.”

Any student enrolled in the apprenticeship program is first brought on as an employee at Branco. Branco is then able to pay the students for their time in the class Justas they would if they were working in the field.

Students in the program are required under the Department of Labor (DOL) guidelines, to have 144 classroom hours, and 2,000 on-the-job training hours every year to receive their certification. Crowder College delivers the classroom hours and Branco provides the on-the-job hours.

The partnership between Branco and Crowder has allowed the program to take on a whole new dynamic. Robinson hopes that the program will help to balance the construction industry, which is currently experiencing a skilled worker shortage, as well as set a new standard of employer-educator interaction.

“We really wanted to tackle this problem of labor shortage head on,” Robinson said. “By creating this template for apprenticeship programs, we hope that other businesses will get excited and latch onto the same ideas.”

Kathy Collier, grants manager with Crowder College, has been involved with the apprenticeship program since it began in 2015. She believes that the partnership forged between Crowder and Branco benefits not only the college and the business, but everyone involved in it.

“The partnership we have is truly an example of a win-win for everybody,” she said. “Through the DOL, they get their certificate of apprenticeship and they can go on to have successful careers. That is huge benefit not to mention the education portion of it.”

What makes this apprenticeship programs special, according to Collier, is Branco’s devotion to the class and their students. “These guys are taking their workers to another level. Not only is Branco giving them the tools to get there, but they are supporting them along the way,” Collier said.

Since the apprenticeship program allowed Crowder to join the Registered Apprenticeship-College Consortium, it has opened the door for the college to bring one apprenticeship programs in numerous different professions. According to Collier, Crowder is currently working on forming a new apprenticeship program that will take inspiration from the Branco program. She hopes to see many more apprenticeships in the future.

“This is really creating a road map for future programs down the road,” she said.