SCC photo/Donna Myers
Shoreline Community College student Richard Stevens, of
Lynnwood, works with SCC instructor Keith Smith, Wednesday,
May 27, 2009. Stevens recently received a credential certified by
the National Institute for Metalworking Skills.
Think all the American manufacturing jobs are headed overseas?
The National Manufacturing Institute, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Shoreline Community College have a different perspective.
With a $1.5 million grant from the Gates Foundation, the Institute is funding four pilot projects across the country, including one in Washington State at Shoreline Community College (SCC). “Manufacturing is here, it’s just changing, becoming a high-tech field,” SCC President Lee Lambert said. “Our CNC (computer numerical controlled) machining program is full and graduates are finding good jobs.”
The grant announced today, May 27, 2009, funds community college-level programs to implement the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)-endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System. These integrated educational programs will prepare students with entry-level skills necessary to succeed in advanced manufacturing careers. The grant funds will focus on low-income young adults and transitioning workers.
“This is a win-win for both students and the industry,” said Berta Lloyd, Dean of Workforce Education at SCC. “With this industry recognized credential, employers can be assured that graduates will have the knowledge, abilities and performance skills to be competitive in the global marketplace.”
At Shoreline, the grant money will pay for curriculum review, some student fees associated with credentials, staffing to oversee the implementation and other costs. Lloyd said the program will also dovetail with a weekend, compressed-schedule CNC machining program aimed at working adults that’s scheduled to start this fall quarter.
Two words illustrate the key concepts of the NAM-endorsed Manufacturing Skills Certification System: Stackable and ladders.
The system allows students to earn multiple credentials that are “stackable,” each one building upon skills acquired in the previous credentials. That stacking allows students to move up the career and education “ladders” and earn one-, two- or four-year degrees depending on their personal choice.
The CNC machining program at Shoreline has already started moving toward becoming a national skills credential program. Started just 18 months ago, the program is going through the accreditation checklist provided by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). Two Shoreline students recently passed the national skills test and a NIMS visit scheduled for this fall is expected to be the final step toward accreditation.
While Shoreline is piloting the project, the objective is to apply the lessons learned to as many manufacturing programs as possible across all 34 of Washington’s community and technical colleges.
“We look forward to working with the Manufacturing Institute and Shoreline Community College to help more low-income adults and transitioning workers learn the skills necessary to succeed in advanced manufacturing careers,” said Jim Crabbe, Workforce Education Director for the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges. “Our community and technical colleges can directly impact the state’s economic recovery by growing a more highly skilled manufacturing workforce.”
Community colleges were chosen as the delivery system because they have a successful track record, said Manufacturing Institute President Emily DeRocco.
“Community colleges have taken the lead in adapting their postsecondary education to meet industry needs in their regional economies,” DeRocco said. “Successful integration of industry-driven skills credentials by these progressive community colleges will revolutionize postsecondary education, ensuring graduates have credentials with real value in the workplace.”
Joining Shoreline as a pilot school are leading community colleges in North Carolina (Forsyth Technical Community College), Ohio (Lorain County Community College) and Texas (Alamo Colleges).