They got a free education. Now they get a free degree.



Mt. Hood Community College now offers associates degrees to journeymen sheet metal workers.

Starting this summer, every sheet metal worker who graduates from the Sheet Metal Institute in Northeast Portland will be eligible to receive an associate degree in applied science from Mount Hood Community College (MHCC).

The apprentice training program is jointly overseen by Sheet Metal Local 16 and representatives of union-signatory employers. It takes five years to become a journeyman in the program, which combines classroom learning with on-the-job training.

Previously, MHCC gave college credit for a journeyman certificate, but that was 13 credits short of an associate degree. Training center director Rob Postma worked with MHCC training coordinator Dawn Loomis to identify parts of the curriculum that aligned with the the community college’s degree requirements — like classes in technical writing, labor history, and first aid — so that the college could award credits.

Instructor Jason Leslie, who graduated in 2020, was the first journeyman to receive the degree based solely on journeyman training. Now, the Sheet Metal Institute has set up a web page — to make it easy for others to do the same. Any journeyman who graduated since July 1, 2018 will be eligible. [Those who graduated before that who want an associate can still get it if they take classes totaling 13 more credits.] There is no charge for the degrees.    


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