Hudson County Community College (HCCC) has partnered with Eastern Millwork Inc. (EMI) located in Jersey City to establish a cooperative apprenticeship program that would yield an Associate in Applied Science degree in advanced manufacturing.
“The increasingly global nature of advanced manufacturing poses great challenges to companies like EMI that are faced with difficulty in finding highly skilled, experienced workers,” said HCC president Chris Reber. “Apprentices who complete this earn-while-you-learn program will climb the career ladder and acquire their A.A.S. degree without any college debt. We are proud to have forged this partnership with EMI, which will ultimately benefit the economic prosperity of our region.”
Focused on custom and high-end automated woodwork manufacturing and installation, EMI is looking to train a maximum of four qualified high school students a year, according to ROI-New Jersey. The joint apprenticeship program will start in July and run over the course of four years.
Apprentices under the program will receive full benefits, including things such as a 401(k), health insurance paid vacation and holidays. In addition they’ll receive a starting annual salary of $24,500 that will increase to $70,000 by the end of the apprentices’ fourth year, when they earn their Associate in Applied Science degrees and officially become EMI engineers.
“Ours is a very specialized industry; one that has been struggling to find qualified, skilled talent,” said EMI owner and president Andrew Campbell. “This partnership with Hudson County Community College embraces both talent and technology. It will help us to fill the void that has existed, it will open the doors for the young people of our community to have well-paying careers with many options, and it will enable EMI and our industry to provide value that importers cannot provide.”
In the new program, EMI will be using a European dual-education model where hired apprentices devote three days a week to practical experiences and one to industry-specific training. The fifth day is spent at Hudson, participating in coursework for their degree.
There will also be an internship aspect to the program where high school juniors train and become apprentices after they graduate, Campbell said, adding that four qualified interns will be hired for a four-week period in July. They will receive a stipend for their work.