Transitional Studies at A-B Tech named a finalist in $750,000 U.S. Department of Education Challenge

A-B Tech has been named a finalist in the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge, a national competition to advance pre-apprenticeships. Participating in this challenge gives Transitional Studies the opportunity to explore new learning and training experiences for adult learners in our programs.

A-B Tech is in its third year of providing pre-apprenticeships, but none have directly tied into the Transitional Studies programs to date. The challenge gives it the opportunity to more intentionally help Transitional Studies students gain entry into these career-building programs. At A-B Tech, more than 60 students completed pre-apprenticeships last year, and the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board and Apprenticeship NC, an office of the North Carolina Community College system, recognized A-B Tech in 2018 for its, “leadership and support as a pre-apprenticeship sponsor.” 

The vision is to expand upon the college's existing pre-apprenticeship programs in Hospitality and Healthcare to include a pre-apprenticeship in Advanced Manufacturing.They will prepare adult learners for more than 700 jobs coming to Buncombe County, by using contextualized instruction to make core skills relevant to specific full-time jobs with benefits.

The Advanced Manufacturing pre-apprenticeship will include two courses, Machining Fundamentals (330 contact hours) and Manufacturing Production Technician (120 contact hours) which prepare students for success on four exams for the Certified Production Technician (CPT) certification with the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council.

North Carolina’s aviation and aerospace manufacturing industry is among the fastest growing in the nation. Over the past 5 years, we have ranked 1st in economic growth in data and knowledge management and human performance, 2nd in power and advanced manufacturing, and 6th in autonomous systems.

Locally, in 2020, Pratt & Whitney, a Fortune 100 company, formally announced plans to invest $650 million to establish plant operations in Buncombe County. A-B Tech is a project partner providing customized training to support this transformational employer’s need for more than 700 workers. In part, A-B Tech was selected as a training partner due to our success providing customized training solutions for GE Aviation since 2014. Both pre-hire and post-hire, we have trained a total of 1,194 people related to the GE project. When GE expanded in 2014 they had a total of 294 employees onsite; today there are over 775.

During Stage 2 of the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge, the college will have access to expert support and digital resources to help us develop a detailed program proposal. The challenge will award $250,000 to the grand-prize winner, and up to five runners up will each receive at least $100,000.

To learn more about the Rethink Adult Ed Challenge, visit

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