New Jersey Pathways Leading Apprentices to a College Education (NJ PLACE) is a statewide program administered by the School of Management and Labor Relations at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey and funded through the State Employment and Training Commission (SETC) and New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD).
NJ PLACE involves collaboration among a number of partners, including NJ's 19 Community colleges, organized labor, employer associations, federally registered apprenticeship programs, educational institutions, and several state agencies. Together, our stakeholders developed a statewide model to award college credit for graduates of participating registered apprenticeship programs.
Our goal is to remove the wall that traditionally separates vocational and academic courses of study. We do this by valuing the skills that people attain through apprenticeship and reward the attainment of those skills with the possibility of earning college credit. We also seek to provide students, parents, teachers, and school counselors with a new understanding of apprenticeship and other experiential learning - not as an alternative to a college education, but rather as a pathway - a very exciting and promising pathway - to a college degree!
NJ PLACE recognizes college-level learning taking place in registered apprenticeship programs and has negotiated articulation agreements with NJ's 19 community colleges to award a minimum number of recommended credits toward an associate degree program. We are currently working on similar agreements with NJ's senior colleges and universities to create a pathway toward a baccalaureate degree.
In order to translate your apprenticeship program into college credits which count toward a degree with a New Jersey public institution of higher education, there were two critical steps.
1. Rigorous Evaluation of Apprenticeship Training Programs:
Registered Apprenticeship and Training Programs who participate in NJ PLACE have undergone a rigorous review from one of two nationally recognized college credit evaluation services: the American Council on Education (ACE) CREDIT program or the
National Program on Noncollegiate Sponsored Instruction (PONSI).
The evaluation teams reviewed the apprenticeship programs curriculum and materials, teaching objectives and learning assessment tools, record keeping practices, teaching environments, and more. Once the review was complete, the team determined the credit hour equivalent for each course in the apprenticeship program and made a formal, written recommendation. Click here to view the NJ PLACE participating programs’ recommendations.
2. Articulation of Credit Recommendations into College Degree Programs:
While a recommendation for college credit is important, it remains only a recommendation until an accredited institution of higher education accepts that recommendation and awards actual college credit on a student’s transcript. NJ PLACE facilitates this all-important second step at a statewide level for those who qualify.
Once each New Jersey community college put in place a common AAS in Technical Studies degree program (a multi-year process in itself), NJ PLACE brokered articulation agreements between each of these 19 colleges and participating apprenticeship programs. These articulation agreements specify a minimum number of credits from the ACE or National PONSI recommendations the college has agreed to count toward the degree, as well as a recommended course of study. Individual colleges may allow a student to transfer more than the minimum credits on a case-by-case basis, or a college may enter into an agreement with an apprenticeship program to transfer a greater number of recommended credits for any of their apprentices. Also, each college has the discretion to award credit for apprenticeship coursework as it is completed, or to wait to award credit upon full completion of the entire apprenticeship program.
NJ PLACE is in the process of expanding articulation agreements between New Jersey’s community colleges and its senior colleges and universities to develop an educational pathway from apprenticeship to baccalaureate degrees.
To facilitate degree completion for apprentices who may live, work, and attend apprenticeship classes in different counties, the community colleges have agreed to some common principles for NJ PLACE participants:
- In-county tuition rates: Regardless of your county of residence, NJ PLACE participants qualify for in-county tuition rates at the community college in which they enroll. For example, if you want to enroll in the college closest to your training center, or you want to enroll in a college offering a degree concentration unavailable in your home county, you can do so without being penalized financially.
- Location flexibility: You can take credit classes at any NJ community college and the community college in which you’re enrolled will consider those classes “native” credits as long as they offer the same course. For example, you can take your general education courses at the community college most convenient to your home or jobsite, even if you’ve enrolled at a different community college, and the courses will still count toward your degree. With enough student interest, your training center may be able to host community college courses too.
Click here to learn how to get started with NJ PLACE.