Cummins and VU celebrate graduates of game-changing Technician Apprentice Program - External Relations
Cummins and VU celebrate graduates of game-changing Technician Apprentice Program
December 21, 2021
VINCENNES, Ind. - Through a powerful collaboration, Columbus, Ind.-based Cummins and Vincennes University are leading the way in building an essential 21st century model for workforce development.
Graduates of the Cummins Technician Apprentice Program (TAP) at VU were recently recognized with special Commencement honoring the Class of 2021.
According to President of Service Operations of Cummins Sales & Service North America Zach Gillen, "Vincennes University and Cummins both have long histories of trailblazing, and the partnership we have on technician apprentices has set a new standard of excellence with nearly 100 percent retention over the four-year program. We thank the leadership at Vincennes for believing in Cummins, and we are excited to work together to grow the program in 2022 and beyond."
"The Cummins and Vincennes University partnership will benefit students with technical skills and an associate degree for Diesel or Power Generation necessary to be more successful in an increasingly complex workplace and provide Cummins with a source of qualified and capable Technician talent. A strong workforce benefits the industry and strengthens our communities," said David Taylor, Cummins Technician Hiring Pathways Leader, North America.
As VU students, Cummins apprentices from throughout the nation build a strong foundation in the latest diesel technology while earning an associate degree.
According to VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson, "Vincennes University is proud to work with Cummins, a great Indiana company, to close the skills gap. Through the partnership, Cummins employees obtain a college degree which, along with the great work experience from the apprenticeship, leads to good-paying jobs and tremendous career opportunities. The Technician Apprentice Program (TAP) is a vital and unique program that not only benefits Cummins but the state of Indiana as well as communities and economies throughout the United States."
TAP apprentices shared their personal experiences and inspiring stories during a graduation ceremony this month at the VU Diesel Technology Center.
Austin Williams, a newly graduated apprentice from Evansville, Indiana, describes the program as an "insane opportunity." He has high praise for TAP for numerous reasons, including the ability to provide for his family in ways he never thought he could.
"It has put me a lot further ahead than I ever expected," he said. "I’ve been able to go to school and maintain a full-time career. I’ve graduated. I always wanted to go to college, but I was always uncertain of it because the high cost of tuition always put me off."
Apprentices in the U.S. Department of Labor-registered program are full-time Cummins employees. The company pays all program expenses and provides a complete set of diesel technician tools. The program features instructional hours in diesel and heavy equipment training in addition to face-to-face and online courses.
David Haslup of Baltimore, Maryland, who admits to not having much direction in his previous job, earned one of two Valedictorian awards presented during the Commencement program. He says the program is life-changing without a doubt. He is incredibly proud of everything he has accomplished. He appreciates the opportunities the program has afforded him.
"I didn’t think programs like this existed," Haslup said. "The program is impeccable. The education you’re receiving is equally impeccable. Our instructors, Mr. (Larry) Stremming and Mr. (Larry) Bland, are excellent teachers. I cannot emphasize that enough. Vincennes University is a very nice university. They have excellent services."
The desire to earn a college degree is a fairly new dream for apprentice Russell Brungard of Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He could hardly contain his excitement when he reflected on the TAP program and his college experience at VU.
"A couple of years ago, I had no desire to further my education," Brungard said. "All I wanted to do was go to work. Now having the opportunity to go through the program and get a degree, it is something that can’t be taken from me. A degree is forever. I’ll also have a much better source of income and I’ve been provided with the ability to provide a better life for myself and my family. If it wasn’t for this program, I would not be in the great position that I am."
Workers who graduate from an apprentice program earn an average of $300,000 more over their lifetime compared to peers who don't, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. It also reports 92 percent of apprentices who complete a program retain employment.