Community Colleges

Attending a community college may be the right decision for some high school graduates. Aside from offering students a low-cost education, community colleges can give them more personalized attention and be a steppingstone toward a four-year institution.

Recently, former President Bill Clinton visited The Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Industrial Technologies (CAMIT) at Spartanburg Community College. During his visit, Clinton emphasized the importance of training high school and college students in practical skills. He further noted that there is a massive need for advanced manufacturing; acknowledging a shortage of skilled manufacturing workers.

The PBS Newshour takes an in-depth look at higher education in its special 5-part series “Rethinking College: Closing the Graduation Gap.” Each part of the series explores a leading edge experiment aimed at improving educational and career opportunities for poor students.


This excerpt, "Does early college for high school students pave a path to graduation?" looks at a unique experiment that tests if enrolling students in higher education before high school graduation helps close the college graduation gap.

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Now in it's second season, TITAN-American Built, takes a look at manufacturing in America and how American manufacturing can compete in a global market. Recently the show visited M-SAMC school, Danville Community College. The show's host and precision machinist, Titan Gilroy, toured the Gene Haas Center for Integrated Machining and spoke with students.


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Oakland Community College offers a Mechatronics Technician Training program that is built around the needs of industry. Aimed at helping those that are unemployed, underemployed, or looking a career, the program gives students a pathway to employment. Download the brochure to learn more about the program.

Henry Ford College is a key partner in the Southeast Michigan Community Alliance (SEMCA), which was recently awarded a $4 million grant to lead the Advance Michigan Center for Apprenticeship Innovation (CAI) project. The project will engage organizations focused on special populations in STEM careers. These may include organizations like the Michigan Council of Women in Technology, Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program and Black Girls Code. Funds will be utilized to establish or expand apprenticeship programs responsive to the evolving technical needs in the high-demand, new-age automotive and transportation sectors of the Advanced Manufacturing industry. CAI will serve 853 workers in Michigan. Download a summary of the CAI project for more information.

The IEM/Mechatronics Program at TCAT-Murfreesboro provides diversified maintenance training to students to meet the occupational needs of the prospective employers in the TCAT community. The program offers hands-on experience, cutting edge technology, innovative training, and more. Watch this video for a behind-the-scenes look at students and staff in the program. For more information about the program visit the TCAT-Murfreesboro website and download this IEM Brochure.

According to the Ohio Manufacturers Association, manufacturing made up 660,000 jobs in Ohio in 2014, representing a payroll of more than $36 billion. Six of Ohio’s top eight manufacturing employers have facilities an hour or less from Lima, making Rhodes State a prime location to train for a manufacturing career. With a wide variety of degree and certificate programs, Rhodes State College is the pathway to a manufacturing career.

The PBS Newshour takes an in-depth look at higher education in its special 5-part series “Rethinking College: Closing the Graduation Gap.” Each part of the series explores a leading edge experiment aimed at improving educational and career opportunities for poor students.


This excerpt, "How community colleges can help close the graduation gap," examines an effort in Florida to redefine the mission of community colleges. Florida's DirectConnect program allows those who earn a two-year community college degree to jump straight to a state school – thus saving thousands of dollars for low-income students who might not otherwise get that chance.


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Brenda Hale is a three-time Pellissippi State college student. She's a non-traditional student continuing to enhance her knowledge and skills through Pellissippi State's programs. Brenda keeps coming back to Pellissippi State because as she says, "...the education I receive here is going to be what employers are looking for." Brenda is currently enrolled in the Engineering Technology/Mechanical Engineering degree program and is also studying 3D printing.

For a second year, Danville Community College has been named  to Virginia Living's "Top High Schools and Colleges" list. The editors selected DCC for its expansion of facilities and equipment that enhance student's training in advanced manufacturing.

Gadsden State welcomes RTP Mobile Lab for Manufacturing Day

In honor of National Manufacturing Day, Gadsden State welcomed the Robotics Technology Park (RTP) Mobile Lab.  The lab is used to create awareness and interest for the development of a skilled industrial robotic workforce. Educators, community members, students, and more got the chance to get hands-on with the equipment, and learn about safety.

Under the American Apprenticeship Initiative Danville Community College is one of four colleges receiving $2.9 million in grant funds to develop and implement an apprenticeship-based jobs training program. The grant funds will help the colleges teach advanced manufacturing and information technology career skills to both incumbent workers as well as those new to the workforce.


DCC Vice President of Workforce Services Jeff Arnold notes workers can earn a good salary while learning a lifelong trade. He further shares that employers are also benefitting because participants are are acquiring skills necessary to work within the company's culture.


Employers or individuals who would like to participate can call DCC at 434-797-8430, or email info@dcc.vccs.edu for more information.

1,400 high school students learn about Rhodes State AMT degree

Manufacturing Day was a hit for Rhodes State as they shared news about their Advanced Manufacturing Technology (AMT) degree with 1,400 high school students. The students toured the Honda Transmission Plant in Russels Point for Manufacturing Day! After the tour, representatives from Rhodes answered questions on how students could get into the field of manufacturing.

Gadsden State Reps attend National Guard Education Fair

Representatives from Gadsden State Community College attended a National Guard Education fair in Birmingham, AL. At the event they spoke with National Guard members about the college's involvement in M-SAMC and the competency-based education programs offered at the college. With flexible scheduling, certificate programs, and more, Gadsden State makes it easy for National Guard members to complete a college education. Gadsden State Community College is an eligible institution for the Alabama National Guard Education Assistance Program, and offers other scholarships and assistance programs to National Guard members and their families.

The Advanced Technology Center at BridgeValley Community & Technical College is all about the hands-on training experience. West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who was onsite for the building's dedication stated, "What we're doing here is we're bringing employers in, asking them what kind of services, what kind of skills they need our employees to have. Then we can develop the program that they've asked for in order to train employees for that."


Toyota is one of the employers that is close to the project. The company has been collaborating with BridgeValley to fund and train students, and pledged $1 million to keep the equipment in the ATC building updated over the next five years.

Gov. Rick Snyder awarded Oakland Community College $4.5 million for their Skilled Trades Program. OCC also committed funds to boost the program. The funds will go towards purchasing equipment, which will help train students through hands-on learning. This will go a long way in providing access to high demand and good paying jobs.

CREC shares LMI data at Gadsden State.

A main goal of the Multi-State Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (M-SAMC) is to ensure the skills being taught in the classroom align with the skills needed on the manufacturing floor. Industry partnerships are crucial to understanding those needs and meeting this goal. Recently, Gadsden State Community College hosted a one-day seminar where representatives from the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness (CREC) shared how to use economic and labor market data to engage industry partners. Key points discussed in the seminar included how to use data to understand economic engines, identify companies driving growth, develop strategies for engaging potential industry partners, and anticipate industry partner skill needs.


The seminar, Using Labor Market Intelligence (LMI) to Engage Industry Partners, will be hosted at other M-SAMC partner colleges in the future. Check the Events section of the M-SAMC website for more details.

For President Obama's free community college proposal to work, students need more than free tuition; they need support and guidance. Current statistics show that about 60% of students continue with a second year of schooling, and only 30% earn an Associate degree after three years. Where's the disconnect? The short answer, the students don't know how to transition their coursework into a degree. Educators have to step-in and guide students down the educational path toward graduation.

Bluegrass Community & Technical College participated in the UpskillAmerica Summit hosted by the White House in April. In an article she penned for the Lexington Herald-Ledger, Bluegrass President Augusta A. Julian shares how community colleges are addressing the issue of preparing students for the workforce.


She highlights that, "For more than 40 years, technical and career programs at community colleges have been structured around competencies identified by local employers." On top of career competencies, President Julian discussed how schools are also incorporating "essential skills" into their curriculum; skills like "...communication, teamwork, dependability, interpersonal skills and professional behaviors that make workplaces run well..."


To prepare for tomorrow's workforce, community colleges have to remember that they serve two main constituents; students that need a good start and employers who want a well-educated employee.

A 2014 study identified the need for over 2,000 advanced manufacturing jobs in the Pensacola, Florida area in the next five years. Pensacola State College and Locklin Tech are both expanding their technology programs to better meet the demand for this skilled, manufacturing workforce. Representatives from the schools recently visited Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College to learn how they've worked with industry to implement best practices for new training programs.

In February Rick Snyder announced $50 million in grants for 18 community colleges located in Michigan. The fund will be used solely on the Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program, providing necessary equipment to these 18 colleges. This allows college students to learn the skills manufacturers need and also helps generate more jobs in Michigan. This program is a great example of closing the gap between what college students are learning and the skills they actually need in the industry.

Dr. Jill Biden had plenty to say about the the outlook for community colleges at the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit. She explains the responsibility of education is not only for students, but also lies within the community. Community colleges are in the process of being strengthened to help all Americans reach their full potential. As Dr. Jill Biden states, "This is the moment for community colleges to shine."

Alamo Colleges are now enrolling students in tuition-free manufacturing technician training for qualified veterans. This program, funded by a grant from the Texas Workforce Commission, prepares graduates for a career in one of three areas: welding, team assembly and machinist. The self-paced classes take from one to three months to complete and are a hybrid of online and laboratory instruction.


The training will continue through September 2015.

Call (210) 485-0246 or email mprice@alamo.edu for more information.

"Community colleges should be free for those willing to work for it," President Obama said in a speech delivered at Pellissippi State Community College on January 9, 2015.


This concept builds upon the "Tennessee Promise," an initiative that became law under Governor Bill Haslam's leadership. The difference,  President Obama proposes expanding the concept, calling his initiative "America's College Promise."


The idea, expand Americans' education beyond high school, to help America stay competitive in the global market. Students can get a higher education and succeed if they are given the opportunity.


Jill Biden reinforced the idea by stating, "Education, especially in community colleges is the answer to workforce issues in the U.S."

Workforce experts see community colleges as essential for providing workers with "middle skills." But the evidence suggests that while demand is growing for middle-skill workers, the U.S. educational system is turning out relatively fewer graduates at this level.


President Obama made a case for free community college; hoping the program might provide employers with a better-skilled workforce and restore growing economic opportunity for many workers.

Manufacturers are increasingly looking to high schools and community colleges to fill current staffing needs and gear up for a wave of Baby Boomer retirements. Educators are trying to dispel student's misconceptions about the industry and spark their interest before they choose other jobs or head to four-year colleges, a costly career investment that has yielded disappointing results for some graduates.


Manufacturing is no longer physical, labor-intensive work.  Today the need is for candidates with a math and science skill set that is capable of working with computers and robots that are doing what the employee used to do by hand.


U.S. community colleges are adopting a German education model that channels students into skilled labor jobs.  This keeps education costs down for the student and fills the skills gap for employers.  In fact, President Obama's Advanced Manufacturing Partnership is working to spread the community-college-apprenticeship model across the USA.

M-SAMC partner, Bluegrass Community & Technical College (BCTC), had 41 students start its Advanced Manufacturing Technician (AMT) program in July, making 2014 the largest incoming class since the program began in Fall 2010. In the program, students learn not only the technical skills, but the soft skills that are needed to succeed in their career.

Across the United States, technical and community colleges carry serious economic weight. The cumulative impact of the nation’s nearly 1,200 community colleges is immense. A study performed by Economic Modeling Specialists International for the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) showed that two-year colleges had an $809 billion net impact on the American economy in 2012.

Separate regions of the U.S. specialize in different sectors of labor; this isolates skills gaps when they occur. Community colleges can best identify these gaps by making use of labor market data and business surveys. By identifying these gaps and understanding employers labor demands, community colleges can best prepare students for employment through offering relevant credentials, certificates, and degree programs.

Texas State Technical College (TSTC) brought together employers, educators, and policymakers to develop a new system, largely built around the Common Skills Language project, that aligns curriculum with workforce demands and matches-up students with employer needs.

Poverty is a significant and growing problem for America. In many regions in North America, community and technical colleges serve a critical role in supporting, and often lead, regional economic prosperity planning and collaboration.

"Aligning Education with Employer Needs"

Multi-State Advanced Manufacturing Consortium (M-SAMC)

5101 Evergreen Road, Dearborn, MI 48128

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This workforce solution was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The solution was created by the grantee and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The Department of Labor makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership.

*AMTEC is supported entirely by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technology Education (ATE) Program Grant (0903193). (AMTEC,NSF ATE DUE-0903193)