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For years, the ABC Connecticut Chapter’s nonprofit Construction Education Center (CEC) operated hybrid in-person and online apprenticeship training programs out of a one-classroom 4,000-square-foot building in Rocky Hill, Conn. This past February, the group had the opportunity to move into a brand new 8,000-square-foot building in Plainville, Conn., with two didactic training rooms, two hands-on training rooms and a conference room. 

When plumbing, carpentry and HVAC courses picked up in September, the hybrid approach became threefold: classroom, online and hands on. (Sheet metal is also offered with hands-on and classroom training only because NCCER doesn’t offer an online component yet.)

Marcie Addy, CEC education director, calls it the “Learning by Doing” initiative. “All the apprentices are excited to get into the building,” she says. “Instead of just saying what students should do, the instructors will be able to show them. It gives them more flexibility in how they’re teaching, and studies have proven that students do much better retaining information when they’re actually doing something versus just reading or listening to a lecture.”

In addition to generous donations from ABC members, a TCEF grant went toward tools for the hands-on training room and materials for eight workbenches, which CEC carpentry apprentices built. The chapter is also discussing the possibility of additional donations and an apprentice of the month sponsorship with a tool supplier.

Beyond apprenticeship training, the new CEC building is allowing ABC to train in ways it previously couldn’t, such as offering medical gas certification.
“This facility will serve our apprentices, member companies and the Connecticut construction industry as a whole,” Addy says. “We anticipate a 15 percent increase in retention within the first two years of implementing the Learning by Doing initiative and a 25 percent increase in enrollment throughout the next five years.” 

Click here to read more about local training programs in other regions.

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