UAA and Continental launch new automotive technology apprenticeship program

by Michelle Saport  |   

With debt a looming concern for many college students today, the idea of going to school while earning a paycheck in one's field may sound too good to be true. The UAA Community & Technical College (CTC) is helping students do just that.

CTC and Continental Auto Group finalized an agreement in January to offer registered apprenticeships for automotive technicians. The agreement marks the college's first partnership with local industry as part of its plan to embed apprenticeships within its academic and technical programs.

"We are excited about this partnership with Continental," said Bonnie Nygard, interim dean of the Community & Technical College. "CTC is committed to providing students with quality training to prepare them for workforce entry. An apprenticeship gives students the advantage of classroom instruction and on-the-job training while earning a paycheck."

Registered apprenticeships are an earn-while-you-learn model. Students take college classes and pay tuition, but they are employees of the sponsoring apprenticeship organization, which means they are compensated while they receive hands-on training.

"We struggle to find automotive technicians," said Rich Swenson, fixed operations director for Continental Auto Group. "So, it was really eye-opening to find out that we could partner with UAA to grow our own employees and develop a pipeline to find qualified applicants."

In addition to receiving college credit, students also earn national industry certification. A college's participation in an apprenticeship program means its programs meet national standards for registration with the U.S. Department of Labor.

"Registered apprenticeships benefit Alaska's employers by training workers to industry specifications, increasing workforce productivity, enhancing retention and developing future leadership," said John Hakala, state director of the Labor Department's Office of Apprenticeship. "Apprentices benefit by learning on the job with current technology and equipment, and earn portable credentials and college credits."

CTC is the only college in Alaska to have joined the Registered Apprenticeships College Consortium or RACC. Participation in RACC signifies high standards of accountability and a commitment to curriculum best practices.

RACC members must have their programs evaluated by a third party organization to determine the college credit value of the apprenticeship completion certificate. All RACC college members must be degree-granting institutions that are accredited by a regional institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Registered apprenticeships have strong support at both the federal and state level and have been endorsed by President Barack Obama and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker.

For more information about CTC's apprenticeship programs, contact Jeff Selvey at (907) 786-7618 or Visit the Labor Department's apprenticeship website at


Special thanks to the many people who made the automotive technology apprenticeship program possible! L to R: Tim Mills, Mazda/Volvo Service Manager; Jeff Selvey, UAA Project Manager; John Robinson, Nissan Service Manager; Jeff Libby, Director, UAA Transportation & Power Division; Madonna Johnson, UAA Career Pathways Coordinator; Kelly Smith, UAA Automotive Technology Instructor; Luis Silva, Mazda North American Operations; Brye Warner, Subaru Service Manager; Rich Swenson, Fixed Operations Director. Not pictured: Greg Luke, Honda/Acura Service Manager

Story by Kirstin Olmstead, CTC Communications Coordinator

Creative Commons License "UAA and Continental launch new automotive technology apprenticeship program" is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
February Archive