Penn Foster and UA Local 51 Partner Integrate Associate’s Degree Program into Plumbing Apprenticeship

Share With:

National leader in online learning and fastest-growing local union offer construction management program to complement plumbing skills, give apprentices real-world advantages.

Penn Foster, Inc., a leading provider of skills training and education solutions for unions, employers, workforce investment boards and today’s workforce, and UA Local 51, a consolidation of four local plumbing and pipefitting unions in Rhode Island and southeast Massachusetts, today announced the two organizations have partnered to integrate Penn Foster College’s Construction Technology Associate Degree into the union’s plumbing and pipefitting apprenticeship program. Earning this associate degree in parallel with completing their plumbing and pipefitting apprenticeship produces a better educated and skilled apprentice, which helps the local union, contractors, and customers.

“We’re proud to offer this Construction Management Associate Degree to all 1,200 members-in-training of UA Local 51,” said Timothy Byrne, Business Manager, UA Local 51. “With plumbing jobs expected to increase 21% in coming years, plumbers face increased demands on their capabilities, including the ‘soft skills’ not taught in the apprenticeship program such as critical thinking, problem solving and interaction skills. By offering this curriculum, which complements our apprenticeship program, our journeymen are much more prepared to be successful in the real world.”

To offer this unique apprentice to degree program, UA Local 51 and Penn Foster worked closely to implement Penn Foster College’s Construction Technology Associate Degree to complement the plumbing and pipefitting skills taught in the UA Local 51 apprenticeship. These courses, offered at no cost to all current apprentices and via scholarship to journeymen, have been required of all apprentices joining UA Local 51 since 2014. There are 70 students currently enrolled and union reps expect to enroll 100+ more in 2017. UA Local 51 offers coursework assistance, including study groups and tutoring, for any apprentices who need help with specific subjects.

“UA Local 51 serves as an ideal example of what can happen when two types of learning institutions partner to help upskill today’s workforce and gain an education that complements their other knowledge and skills,” said John Shrader, General Manager and Executive Vice President, Penn Foster. “We admire UA Local 51 for encouraging their apprentices to reach beyond the norm for their ultimate benefit.”

“Our goal is for every apprentice to have both a journeyman’s license and an associate degree,” Byrne continued. “Of all the programs we vetted, Penn Foster was not just the most affordable, but the most flexible, meeting the educational and support needs of our apprentices, and allowing our members to be awarded credits from prior learning and relevant work experience. Our students come out more motivated, confident and better at their jobs.”

Penn Foster is a Registered Apprenticeship Provider working with the Department of Labor via the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), and/or corporate-sponsored offerings. More than 1,000 corporations across the country utilize Penn Foster training and support solutions to educate their workforce. Utilizing its content library in excess of 3,000 business and industrial courses, Penn Foster can build custom apprenticeship programs with contextualized related technical instruction geared toward partner and employee specialization and industry.

About UA Local 51

UA Local 51, formed a short time ago from the consolidation of four locals from Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts, is a member of the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry of the United States and Canada.  The fastest growing trade union in the region, Local 51’s membership enjoys full employment, and Local 51 is a recognized force in the labor community. To learn more, visit

About Penn Foster

Students, employers and partner organizations rely on Penn Foster to build the skills and knowledge to power the 21st century workforce. For over 125 years, Penn Foster has been dedicated to helping people lead more meaningful and productive lives and to improving social outcomes through education. Penn Foster provides career pathways for opportunity youth and adult learners through diverse and affordable online diploma, certificate and degree programs, offered via its high school, career school and college. With more than 30,000 graduates each year, Penn Foster’s online and blended learning programs are delivered in a self-paced, competency-based model wrapped by comprehensive academic, professional and personal support and coaching. For more information, visit

Join the conversation: