A unique gathering of officials at Shoreline Community College recently explored how education and industry can work together to bridge the gap between today's reality and tomorrow's demands for training, certification and jobs.
“This is a groundbreaking event,” Roger Tadajewski, Executive Director of the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), said at a Feb. 29, 2012 roundtable discussion. “We have college presidents, national industry leaders and local manufacturers all talking about how to work together.”
The roundtable was part of a weeklong “train the trainer” seminar on diagnostics and torque for the transportation and energy industry sectors. The seminar was sponsored by NC3 and Snap-on Tools and hosted by Shoreline Community College. Shoreline was an early member of NC3 and President Lee Lambert is vice chairman of the board of directors.
NC3 focuses on the need for industry to partner with educational institutions to develop, implement and sustain industry-recognized portable certifications that have strong validation and assessment standards.
The Feb. 29 roundtable included officials from Snap-on, Boeing, Royell Manufacturing and others as well as Miramar Community College (San Diego), Gateway Community College (Wisconsin), Francis Tuttle Technology Center (Oklahoma) and local colleges including Shoreline, Edmonds, Everett and Lake Washington Technical Institute.
Besides the roundtable, the day included a reception in the Snap-on Innovation Center at the college and a dinner in the Stanley O. McNaughton Dining Room at the Professional Automotive Training Center (PATC).
“Industry needs people with the right skills and students are looking for jobs,” Lambert said. “With colleges delivering the education and training for industry-acknowledged certifications, we’re helping businesses and students.
“Our message to both industry and students is that we are here and ready to meet your needs.”
Shoreline has programs in automotive technology and computer-numeric controlled (CNC) machining, both with employment placements rates for graduates of virtually 100 percent. Automotive graduates go to work at local new car dealers and other service firms while CNC machining graduates are moving into the aerospace industry. The Clean Energy Technology is the leading program in the state for solar-electric technology and graduated the first students following Gov. Chris Gregoire’s call for 25,000 new green-collar jobs.
Across the country, there is a resurgence of manufacturing jobs. According to a Federal Reserve Bank report in February, factory output got off to a robust start in January and it ended 2011 with the fastest growth in five years.
Closer to home, Boeing has been hiring at a frenetic pace for more than a year. Not only are orders for planes increasing, but a large percentage of the company’s workforce is either eligible now for retirement or soon will be. President Obama noted the impact manufacturing hiring has on the economy in comments made during a visit to the Everett, Wash., plant on Feb. 17.
“This company is a great example of what American manufacturing can do in the way nobody else in the world can do,” the president told the crowd. “Every Dreamliner that rolls off the assembly line here in Everett supports thousands of jobs in different industries all across the country.”
“The average person thinks manufacturing is an old thing,” said Dan Ramirez, Director of Strategic Marketing and Development for NC3. Today, that’s not true, Ramierz said, adding that manufacturing jobs require new skills using computers, electronics and exotic composite materials for new processes.
At the Shoreline roundtable, Tom Stephenson of Royell Manufacturing, a Boeing and aerospace industry supplier, said he sees the issue as one of bridging gaps. Stephenson said the gaps are between industry and colleges to provide the needed training and then between employers and students to match the skills with the jobs.
Bob Biesiedzinski, PATC interim director, said the image of a technician and manufacturing have to change. “We have to break the mold of routing the student who fails math or chemistry over to the machine shop,” Biesiedzinski said. “Today’s automotive technician or CNC machinist is highly skilled, using the very latest in technology and they’re getting paid very well.”