by jamesc 8/1/2014 12:26:39 PM --
NORFOLK - Manufacturing accounted for 11.8 percent of the gross domestic product in Nebraska in 2011. It not only contributed $11.2 billion to the state’s economy, but it employed 9.8 percent of the workforce. However, according to research by the consulting firm Deloitte, 600,000 manufacturing jobs remain unfilled in the United States because employers cannot find skilled workers. The skills gap and inability to fill positions with qualified candidates witnessed at the national level has not evaded Nebraska - as reports from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that 2.3 percent of jobs in the Midwest, including Nebraska, remain unfilled.
These are statistics that are hard to ignore. In an effort to assist the manufacturing sector in providing qualified and productive workers, Northeast Community College has created a new option to allow students to acquire highly valued skills in an innovative, hands-on learning environment.
“Northeast is using funding from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program to develop our new Diversified Manufacturing Technology Certificate. This certificate will arm students with a high level of both technical and non-technical skills to ensure a pipeline of proficient workers to support the manufacturing industry,” said Lyle Kathol, dean of applied technology.
Kathol said the Diversified Manufacturing Certificate is designed to meet the skill requirements for entry level workers in the manufacturing sector. It is also designed to be a stepping stone into a full Diploma or Associate of Applied Science degree in many programs offered at the College.
Kathol said to identify manufacturing industry priorities for workforce training in Nebraska, and in consideration of applying for a statewide TAACCCT grant with Nebraska’s other community colleges, information was gathered through community college advisory councils, ongoing facility-industry relationships, and a statewide survey of manufacturing sector employers.
He said, “Projecting ahead three to five years, nearly three-quarters of industry leaders anticipate their greatest hiring challenge will be for positions in skilled production. One-half of employers report that workforce shortages or deficiencies in skilled production and production support have already had a significant negative impact on their ability to expand operations or improve productivity.”
Kathol said one-half of industry leaders report that employees demonstrate inadequate employability skills, such as attendance, timeliness, and work ethic, among others, and nearly as many employers indicate significant problems with employee skills for social communication and social and technical problem solving.
One-third of the employers reported concerns related to a lack of technical skills training. “They say they need a more highly skilled, flexible workforce, able to engage in technical problem solving and the ability to respond to ongoing changes in safety and environmental regulations, automation systems, and market demand,” he said.
“The goal of the Diversified Manufacturing Technology certificate program at Northeast Community College is to better prepare students for the advancement of next-generation technology and automation while developing students who are more effective in practice in a manufacturing setting,” said Shanelle Grudzinski, associate dean of applied technology.
“The program builds on a foundation of basic academic and workplace readiness skills, such as critical thinking and employability skills, core technical skills, such as quality, safety, and maintenance. Students can either enter into the workforce, or sequence into occupational specific skills such as welding, electromechanical technology, or electrical construction and control upon completion of the program,” Grudzinski said.
In addition to the certificate issued through Northeast, the program offers students the opportunity to acquire stackable credentials including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) ten-hour certificate and the American Heart Association CPR - Automated External Defibrillator - First Aid certification. It also prepares students to complete the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council’s (MSSC) certified production technician (CPT) examination while pursuing academic credentials. Additionally, many of the courses mesh into other programs allowing students to readily transition into specialty areas of study.
Grudzinski said, “The Diversified Manufacturing Technology Certificate program at Northeast Community College exemplifies collaboration and partnerships between education, government, and manufacturers in meeting the changing needs of industry, enhancing economic develop, and preparing students for long-term success.”
Employers or individuals who would like to learn more about Northeast Community College’s Diversified Manufacturing Certificate, may contact Kathol at (402) 844-7215 or Grudzinski at (402) 844-7692.