Friday Focus: Colleges Dedicated to Workforce Training

May 24, 2013

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Merging real-world training with college courses can strengthen the workforce and help repair the skills gap. Across the country, colleges are partnering with manufacturers and other business that are looking to fill positions that often involve fast-paced high-tech skill sets — from robotics operators to welding jobs.

As manufacturing technology evolves, so do requirements for a multitude of jobs throughout the nation. The challenge, though, is finding and recruiting workers who are ready to get the job done post graduation. With federal grants, schools have the ability to create or modernize programs to train workers with the skills needed in a variety of industries.

Here is a closer look at several of the latest efforts by colleges to produce the future workforce.

New York Community Colleges to Launch Workforce Training Efforts

A consortium of State University of New York (SUNY) community colleges will partner with businesses across New York State to develop and launch educational programs that focus on workforce training, made possible by a $14.6 million U.S. Department of Labor grant, which is part of the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program, according to SUNY. Career training programs scheduled to launch this fall involve partnerships between schools and organizations including the Manufacturers Association of Central New York and the American Welding Society, which will provide welding simulators to prepare students for jobs.

“SUNY has some of the top schools in our country, and by matching local industries’ jobs needs with targeted skills development, this brand-new consortium will put our students on the path to success,” said U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, at the consortium's first official meeting involving the colleges and business in May.

Indiana Tech College Focuses on Aviation Manufacturing Training

Ivy Tech Community College in Tell City, Ind., will create a 12-to-16-week training program for individuals going into the aviation manufacturing industry. Funding will be from a $1.5 million U.S. Dept. of Labor grant that will help train students in electrical assembly and sheet metal production, NWI Times reported.

Students will be prepped for jobs after only 12 weeks. The certification program will include hands-on lab work and online learning, so students can work at their own pace, according to The News-Sentinel, which reported that area companies will partner with the program. Credentials will be for composites repair and assembly mechanics, among others.

Hawaii College to Offer Free Career Training Certifications

Students attending the University of Hawaii Maui College can receive training certificates through non-credit classes by participating in iCAN, short for the “individualized career achievement network,” Maui Now reports. The program was developed after the school received a $24.6 million federal training grant from the Dept. of Labor in 2011.

The certification programs are tailored for those aged 18 to 64 and are for the agriculture, energy, and health care sectors, Maui Now reported.

Last year, the office of Governor Neil Abercrombie issued a statement that outlined plans to build workforce education: “The Governor and UH are also aligned in an unprecedented way. At UH we are investing in people by ensuring that more students earn degrees and certificates at UH. This provides our residents with more knowledge, access to more career options and more opportunities to support their families and contribute to the community. It also develops our workforce.”

Minnesota Colleges Gear Up for Manufacturing Training

As part of a collaborative effort to ramp up manufacturing skills, a group of central Minnesota community and technical colleges will utilize a $13 million federal grant for training workers, MPR News reported.

Reporter Tom Robertson chronicles how manufacturers in the state are forced to turn away customers due to a lack of production capacity, due in turn to a lack of skilled workers. Employers that require workers for fabricating and welding are having a difficult time attracting the right talent.

For more on the effort, click here.

Are you involved with or dependent on educational workforce training? Share your stories with @BethG_TN on Twitter.

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