Thomas Edison State University (TESU) has been chosen as the sole higher education institution to receive an $849,000 NJ Place Grant. Gifted by The New Jersey Department of Labor, the grant will help 100 students attain an associate degree.

Provided at no cost to the student apprentice, this opportunity equips participants with the knowledge they need while also allowing them to work to maintain their livelihoods. TESU will be merging with different companies to give those students the best opportunities for success.  

The NJ PLACE grant is an innovative approach by the state to seamlessly blend apprenticeship training, on-the-job training and college learning into a degree pathway, saving students time and money while actively building the New Jersey workforce. The state’s goal is to create a broader and more transferable skill set for working adults in New Jersey.

Student apprentices will be able to simultaneously fulfill the requirements of an apprenticeship program and the requirements for an associate degree while still earning a living. TESU is no stranger to enabling students to leverage their prior learning, on-the-job training and other types of learning experiences to promote degree completion and acceleration. TESU annually awards more than 65,000 credits to students for prior learning. 

“TESU is very excited to work with the state of New Jersey as we increase options and opportunities through integrated apprenticeship and college experiences,” said Dr. Merodie A. Hancock, president, TESU. “Our expertise with prior learning will be at the heart of the program and benefit the student apprentices and their employers. Students will be able to earn and learn as they build their resume and their academic transcript.”

She continued, “Thomas Edison has evaluated workplace training programs through prior learning review for decades, across a multitude of industries, and we are proud to play such a significant role as more and more employers and their employees are finding the value in this win-win approach.”  

The University has partnered with four USDOL apprenticeship programs in New Jersey: Northeast Carpenter Apprenticeship Training Fund, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 269, Eastern Millwork, and the National Elevator Industry Education Program, to kick start this initiative and aims to bring on additional partners in the near future.  

The Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives and Institutional Effectiveness at TESU, Jeff Harmon, had few words to say about this wonderful achievement.

“TESU has always been focused on the assessment of student learning regardless of the setting or context of that learning,” he said. “This focus serves as the basis for many University initiatives including our evaluation of apprenticeship training, the NJPLAN program, and the multitude of credit earning and prior learning assessment opportunities. This focus is what enables TESU students to accelerate toward degree completion and is a critical piece of our NJ PLACE award.”

He continued, “Critical thinking, information literacy, [and] quantitative literacy are just some of the skills taught in apprenticeship programs, though they may look and feel different than those often taught in a college classroom.”  

For more information, contact Jeff Harmon, vice provost for Strategic Initiatives and Institutional Effectiveness at Thomas Edison State University at or 609-984-1120, ext. 2310.

About Author