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Local Contractor Creates Deal with NKU to Avoid College Debt for Employees

Local electric contractor firm Ion/Apex announced a new program that alleviates all college debt, allowing its employees to attend Northern Kentucky University.

The company reached a deal with NKU in April recognizing the completion of an apprenticeship program as being equivalent to college-level work.

Ion/Apex CEO Jeff Kennedy and NKU President Asish Vaidya were joined by Kentucky Education and Workforce Cabinet Secretary Derrick Ramsey to finalize the arrangement.

Each apprentice that takes part in the program will receive eighteen credit hours at no cost to them or Ion/Apex, with NKU recognizing the training program at the company.

Following that, Ion/Apex will pay any tuition incurred by apprentices.

Ion/Apex employee Mark McGuire is among the first of their employees to participate in the program. Prior to joining Ion/Apex McGuire worked at Sam’s Club, as a landscaper, and then at St. Elizabeth Healthcare. McGuire already has a degree in exercise science from Morehead State University but came to the skilled trades as an electrician because he likes the camaraderie, diverse projects, and working as a team.

“I think it’s awesome and it will not have twelve years of debt assigned to it," McGuire said of the NKU program agreement with Ion/Apex." It would be almost silly for me to not to take advantage it.”

“This will prepare me for after working in the field and lead to a larger role potentially as a project manager, senior foreman or other leadership roles," he said. "I also like how NKU provides flexibility of CLEP courses and online options for working adults was a key component in whether I would be able to do it or not. I love that Ion/Apex puts such an emphasis on education and training and I do not have to worry about being buried under student debt to achieve my goals.” 

“The college debt issue alone forces us to explore other approaches to distribute, obtain, and apply knowledge in a more efficient manner," said CEO Jeff Kennedy when asked why his company is embracing this approach replied." Ion/Apex Electric and NKU have developed a method leaves the student with knowledge, career credentials and degrees, and with no student loan debt.“ 

-Staff report