College of DuPage Project Hire-Ed Expanding to Better Serve Students and the Community

By: Mike McKissack

COD leadership and Project Hire-Ed staff cutting a ribbon to celebrate the opening of their new space

Aligned with its exceptional growth and coinciding with the graduation of its first class this spring, College of DuPage’s Project Hire-Ed apprenticeship program has moved into a newly renovated space on the College’s Glen Ellyn campus.

Project Hire-Ed Manager Danielle Kuglin Seago said the larger office will provide space for additional staff, increasing opportunities to engage the College community and connect with employers.

“We look forward to welcoming faculty to our office to discuss new apprenticeship industry tracks,” she said. “Students interested in the apprenticeship program also can visit to meet with staff and learn more about the apprenticeship program and how to get started. In addition, our new conference room enables program staff to welcome employers to campus to discuss customized training plans for their apprentices that aligns to the College’s curriculum.”

The new office provides an area for four part-time employees tasked with developing program infrastructure to help support the quickly growing program, Kuglin Seago said. In addition, staff have increased room to provide additional services to students, including evaluations for the apprenticeship process and professional development conversations between students and employers.

 Project Hire-Ed’s earn-and-learn model helps employers find talented employees, while helping students learn the skills they need to jumpstart their careers. Students enrolled in the program are employed full-time by partnering businesses while developing job skills through college courses and work-based learning. Those completing the program graduate with no student debt, a 30 credit-hour certificate, education and skills aligned with industry, and ultimately increased opportunities for higher wages and career advancement. In addition, program courses are stackable, enabling apprentices to pursue additional credentials, such as an associate degree.

The benefits of Project Hire-Ed are not limited to students. Through the program, businesses can build a pipeline of skilled workers and customize training to fill their needs.

Initial Project Hire-Ed apprenticeship opportunities included Manufacturing Machining, Manufacturing CNC Operator, Facility Maintenance, Industrial Maintenance, HVACR Service, Welding and Electro-Mechanical/Mechatronics. Aiming to meet the needs of local industry, Project Hire-Ed staff continues to develop and expand the program to include more apprenticeship opportunities in a range of fields. Last year, staff created a health care apprenticeship for Medical Billing and Coding. Program organizers recently rolled out a horticulture apprenticeship and currently are developing additional opportunities in Information Technology and health care fields.

As program organizers seek to expand into other areas, Kuglin Seago said continuing to build relationships with local business and industry will be vital. To that end, Project Hire-Ed’s ongoing collaboration with organizations like workNet DuPage has been invaluable, she said.

“We have had a great partner in WorkNet DuPage on this apprenticeship journey,” she said. “Any employer in DuPage County pursing apprenticeships with Project Hire-Ed is connected with workNet DuPage, which provides potential funding options through grants. Likewise, workNet DuPage makes referrals to Project Hire-Ed with regional employers interested in apprenticeships. The organization also has assisted in facilitating conversations with employers around industry expansion opportunities.”

As Project Hire-Ed continues to grow and development, Kuglin Seago said such collaborations will continue, ensuring the program can continue to serve students, businesses and the local economy.

“Growing our program offerings and moving into a larger new space are important steps toward expanding the critical work College of DuPage is doing to help employers find the right talent for their organizations while providing students the in-demand skills employers are seeking,” she said.

Learn more about Project Hire-Ed at College of DuPage.

Pictured: Project Hire-Ed Manager Danielle Kuglin Seago and College of DuPage President Dr. Brian Caputo celebrate the completion of Project Hire-Ed’s new space in the Berg Instructional Center on the Glen Ellyn campus.