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IBEW apprentices earn degrees through EGCC

DEGREE — Apprentices honored for finishing their program and earning an associate’s degree included, from left, Tyler Buchanan; Brian Gampolo; Anthony Grafton; Robert Kovaleski, top apprentice; Jake Lilly; T. Ian Morris; M. Bruce Ryan; Brian Utt; and Caleb Westlake. Ashley Howell and Andrew Timcho also completed the program. -- Contributed

STEUBENVILLE — Eleven students finished a five-year apprenticeship program and earned an associate degree at the same time through a unique partnership between a local union and Eastern Gateway Community College.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 246 and the Steubenville Division of the National Electrical Contractors Association celebrated the apprentices’ graduation with a dinner and ceremony May 18 at Williams Golf and Country Club in Weirton.

The celebration marks the completion of more than 8,000 hours of on-the-job training accompanied by 1,000 hours of classroom training during the last five years. This is the ninth group of inside wiremen to complete the training and receive an associate degree of technical studies in electrical trades technology.

Christina Wanat, interim vice president of student affairs, said Eastern Gateway accepts IBEW apprentices nearly every year. Under EGCC’s program, it is mandatory for apprentices to earn their associate degree. This, in turn, opens up more opportunities for continuing education.

Students in the five-year program are all union electricians and only a certain number of participants are accepted, said Christy Hardwick, an administrative assistant for the IBEW.

The program is approved through the state of Ohio. Students attend night classes at the IBEW training center and receive up to 47 credits through EGCC toward their associate degree. Thanks to the program, participants are able to move to journeyman status, obtain their associate degree, do their apprenticeships, receive on-the job training and go through multiple certification processes at the same time.

“Along with their IBEW training, it prepares them for the work force and, if they wanted to continue on with their education, they would already have an associate degree so they can go on to earn their bachelor’s degree,” said Wanat.

After they successfully complete the program, students can decide on their own if they want to continue on to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

The Local 246 includes all of Jefferson, Columbiana and Harrison counties and parts of Columbiana County in Ohio and all of Brooke and Hancock counties in West Virginia. The graduating apprentices received certificates of completion from the U.S. Department of Labor and Electrical Training Alliance. State Rep. Jack Cera, D-Bellaire, presented certificates to the apprentices.

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