SPRINGFIELD, Mass (WGGB) — State law requires Porter and Chester electrical students experience both class work and on the job training, or OJT, while earning their degree. Last winter, students like Thomas Minutillo got some bad news:
“At least temporarily, they told us that OJT would no longer count,” Minutillo says the school told students in January. “That any hours we were told we would get for ojt in here we could not claim under our requirements of 8,000 hours before going for our journey man’s exam.”
Turns out Porter and Chester’s catalog does say “Part of the training hours you acquire at Porter and Chester qualify as OJT.”
The issue: students weren’t aware and after hearing the policy, feared that hundreds of hours spent inching toward that 8,000 hour requirement would be wasted, not to mention the money paid to the school.
“They do seem to have a corporate mentality of let the lawyers figure it out instead of actually trying to help their students,” Minutillo said.
That’s why he wrote to the state electrical board at the division of licensure, who held a private meeting this week. The result, a win for current and past students, who were informed in an email that their hours at Porter and Chester would count towards their on the job training requirements.
“It’s nice to know that i’m not wasting my time here,” Minutillo said. “It’s good to know that at least I’m getting something for what I’m paying.”
The state also ordered that the school clarify their policy for future students. Porter and Chester maintains they were never trying to pull something over the eyes of students, and said in a statement “The board confirmed that PCI has been operating in good faith and voted unanimously to accept PCI’s lab hours as counting toward OJT licensing requirements for currently enrolled students and past PCI graduates. We are thrilled with the board’s actions and how it will benefit our students.” Porter and Chester runs similar programs, such as HVAC training, but this ruling was specific to the electrical department.