Hudson County Community College and Eastern Millwork Earn-While-You-Learn Apprenticeship Program Readies Next Generation of Skilled Woodworkers

March 11, 2022

Applications now being accepted for apprenticeship program acclaimed as ‘blueprint’ for New Jersey’s economy.


Pictured here, Amber Guiterrez, student-apprentice in the Holz Technik Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program.

Pictured here, Amber Guiterrez, student-apprentice in the Holz Technik Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Program.

March 11, 2022, Jersey City, NJ – The famous designer, Charles Eames, said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.” Unique details such as radius- and custom-profiled woodwork, and curved-surface cabinetry that distinguish architectural design, are highly desirable and can only be produced by skilled tradespeople. For centuries, this work was created strictly by hand. 

For nearly 30 years, Eastern Millwork, Inc. (EMI) has been an industry leader in high-end, automated woodwork manufacturing and installation. The company has successfully challenged the belief that high-quality woodworking could only be produced by hand, and utilizes technological innovations that deliver products of uncommon value without sacrificing Old World quality. As a specialized industry, EMI struggled to find skilled workers, and successfully partnered with Hudson County Community College (HCCC) to create the Holz Technik dual-education model to address this challenge. 

Hailed by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy as an example of the blueprint for the Garden State’s economic future, the federally registered EMI-HCCC Holz Technik apprenticeship program embraces talent and technology. The earn-while-you-learn program is modeled on proven European forms of education. Qualified high school students who are hired as apprentices each year split their time between practical, on-the-job experience and college coursework. 

Apprentices receive a tuition-free college education, a $24,500 starting salary with merit raises, and full benefits including health insurance, 401K profit sharing, and vacations/holidays. By the end of the fifth year, apprentices receive their Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Advanced Manufacturing from HCCC, earn their bachelor’s degree in Technical Studies from Thomas Edison State University (TESU), receive a salary of $70,000, and have no college debt. 

HCCC is at the forefront of educating a workforce that contributes significantly to critical technological advances and drives regional economic growth. The HCCC-EMI partnership stems from the expansion of the College’s Workforce Development program, which also includes a trailblazing dual-education program with International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 825 that leads to an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in Technical Studies. “We are proud of our partnerships that help our community thrive and provide upcoming generations with resources to secure sustainable, well-paying careers without the burden of college debt,” said HCCC President Dr. Chris Reber.

Amber Gutierrez, a Union City High School graduate and a member of the Holz Technik Academy Class of 2024, was drawn to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields but did not want to be saddled with crippling college debt and the uncertainties of job searches. “I knew that once I graduated high school my focus would be taking care of myself. This opportunity is giving me the ability to do that,” she said in an interview at the start of her apprenticeship.

EMI Founder and CEO Andrew Campbell stated, “Our partnership with Hudson County Community College helps to fill a void. It opens doors for the young people of our community who have demonstrated promise and aptitude to earn a tuition-free college degree, and enjoy well-paying careers with many options. It also enables our company – and our industry – to provide value that importers cannot provide.”

“A lot of what Eastern Millwork does is very much in line with things that I have always been interested in, and as a bonus, it’s local here in New Jersey where I was born and raised. I have a great sense of community for this place,” said Isaiah Montalvo, a member of the Holz Technik Class of 2024.

Applications for the HCCC-EMI education-apprenticeship program are now being accepted. Contact Al Williams at 201-360-4255 or awilliamsFREEHUDSONCOUNTYCOMMUNITYCOLLEGE for more information.