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Biden Unveils Plans to Help Students Gain College Credit for Apprenticeships

Vice President Joe Biden on Monday announced that the Obama administration will work to make it easier for student-apprentices to earn college credit for their training. Biden unveiled plans to establish the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium (RACC) at the annual convention of the American Association of Community Colleges in Washington.

The consortium will include members from community colleges, labor unions, business, and industry. The idea is to help students who are learning skills through an apprenticeship to also amass college credits, therefore reducing the time and cost for them to earn an associate or bachelor's degree, said Biden.

"That's a game change for a lot of people struggling to choose between going to work and going to college, when they can do both," Biden said. "With an apprenticeship, they are able to earn while they'relearning."

According to materials provided by the vice president's office, 87 percent of students participating in apprenticeships find employment after completing their apprenticeship.

The move to establish the consortium RACC is part of a broader effort that President Obama shared in his State of the Union address this year. In the speech, he called for an overhaul of job-training programs in the country "to make sure they have one mission: Train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now." He added, "That means more on-the-job training and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life. It means connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill their specific needs."

The consortium will be administered by the U.S. departments of Labor and Education. College members who sign up must be accredited, degree-granting institutions and have their programs evaluated by a third-party organization to determine the college-credit value of the apprenticeship completion certificate. 

On this same front last month, Vice President Biden met with trade association leaders and again last week with business executives from IT companies to discuss the need for job training.

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