Community college wins big grant to link students with manufacturing jobs
(photo credit: Kristen Ankiewicz)
Manufacturing matters in California and Governor Jerry Brown recently signed legislation making sure the industry gets the support it needs.
Manufacturing? Yes, manufacturing. If there's one industry that will help the state's economy, it's this one. Need proof? Southern California alone continues to be the largest manufacturing area in the country with around 360,000 workers in the industry, according the the California Employment Development Department.
Make no mistake about it: the industry is making a huge comeback and that's why folks with the California Community College Chancellor's Office (CCCCO) want to give students every opportunity to develop the skills needed to enter the industry.
The CCCCO's Division of Workforce and Economic Development recently awarded eight community colleges grants to align advanced manufacturing education pathways with the needs of regional manufacturers, provide employee training and inspire students' interests in manufacturing careers.
"CCCCO is focused on Advanced Manufacturing because it is a critical component of California's economy," said Jose Anaya, Sector Navigator, Advanced Manufacturing, California Community Colleges.
"California has almost 1.5 million manufacturing jobs and the sector enjoys a 2.5 job multiplier. Manufacturing is part of the supply chains for health care, business services, national defense, energy, construction, and environmental sustainability. Specifically, manufacturing products and technologies are essential to: enable better health care systems; create more energy-efficient buildings; develop alternative energy sources; ensure U.S. security; and create better transportation systems."
Sierra College's Center for Applied Competitive Technologies (CACT) is one lucky recipient recently awarded $300,000.
"This grant will make it possible to expand our collaboration with employers in the Advanced Manufacturing sector and work closely with nearby community colleges to meet the needs of manufacturers," said Willy Duncan, Sierra College President.
According to the State's Employment Development Department, as of 2011, there were 85,000 people working in goods producing establishments with an annual payroll of $4.9 billion in the Sacramento region.
"Globalization and rapid technology advances have reshaped jobs so technicians must have more advanced skills to operate and maintain computerized machinery, and perform complex manufacturing tasks," said Carol Pepper-Kittredge, director at the Sierra College CACT. "In addition to technical skills, employers are asking for employees who have critical thinking, problems solving, communication, collaboration, creativity and innovation skills."
Sierra College will work with other regional colleges to strengthen curriculums, offer employee training and work with high schools to better prepare students.
"These are excellent opportunities for high-wage jobs in Advanced Manufacturing in our region," said Pepper-Kittredge. "To keep current, employees require on-going training. In addition, both high school and college students must be introduced to additive manufacturing, digital design, high-tech welding and other cutting edge technologies so they can bring this expertise to local businesses. Through this grant, colleges and industry can work together to enhance the local economy."
Advancing Manufacturing is one of the Signature Initiatives identified by the regional meetings held in advance of this year's California Economic Summit which will be held in Los Angeles November 7 and 8. Creating these links and partnerships between education, skills training and industries with in-demand jobs will be a big boost for the state's economy.
"We are following the lead of California's regions," said Van Ton-Quinlivan, vice chancellor of Workforce and Economic Development of California's Community Colleges. "Some have identified Advanced Manufacturing as their strategy for attracting and growing jobs, and that is where we are making an investment."