Tag Archives: NC3

Connecting with manufacturing

Pima Community College has been at the center of several recent events aimed at building our relationships to the manufacturing sector of the economy. Here is a look at some of the ways PCC has been involved in connecting with businesses and development groups for the benefit of our students and the community:

ribbonTrane outside

  • PCC hosted the Acceleration Now! Tour at Downtown Campus on Oct. 3. The event was sponsored by Trane, which makes climate control solutions for homes and businesses. The tour is a 70-city trade show featuring the latest in heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment. Originally, Tucson was not a tour destination, but Vice Chancellor of Facilities Bill Ward prevailed on Trane to make a stop here. The result was the tour’s best-attended event so far, as engineers, architects and business leaders joined PCC staff, administrators and faculty in an endeavor whose goals included raising the level of technical education for students and developing the most effective workforce of tomorrow. Hats off to PCC’s team that planned the event for a first-class operation.
  • In conjunction with the Acceleration Now! Tour stop, the College hosted a roundtable discussion featuring leaders of the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3), which connects businesses and schools to develop and sustain industry-recognized portable certifications in industries ranging from transportation to energy to aviation. [I’m proud to serve on NC3’s Board of Directors.] I moderated a discussion between PCC faculty and administrators and representatives of Trane, manufacturer W.W. Grainger and other companies. NC3 Executive Director Roger Tadajewski noted that 10,000 people retire every day in the U.S., and pointed out that in HVAC, for example, the average age of a technician is 55. “Where are we going to get the talent?” Roger asked, to fill the skills gaps that are widening in many occupations.
  • As part of the Southern Arizona Manufacturing Partnership’s Manufacturing Day event in Tucson, Downtown Campus hosted a tour of its Machine Tool Technology facilities and its Veterans Center. Attending the tour was Jennifer McNelly, president of the Manufacturing Institute, the non-profit affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers. [I’m also proud to be a founding member of the education council of the Manufacturing Institute.] Veterans were the focus of the day’s activities. In a gathering at the Kino Veterans Center, three PCC student-veterans, ranging in age from their 20s to 68, shared how a PCC technical education has helped them sharpen their skills, find jobs or inspire them to start their own company.

Manufacturing employs 155,000 people in Arizona and as Jennifer said last week, the sector is the lifeblood of towns across the U.S. PCC is committed to providing its students with the skills and opportunities to succeed in in this essential economic sector, and to support a workforce that can drive innovation and prosperity in our community.

Building better pathways to in-demand careers

The reinvigorated push for better job training announced this week by the White House is important for numerous reasons. As PCC’s chancellor, what struck me was the critical role community colleges are again being called upon to play in readying our workforce for the in-demand jobs of the 21st century.

One of the key themes of the report, developed by a task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden, was the need for a systemic, connected approach by stakeholders. “Many businesses, community colleges, and state and local training programs … have found ways to successfully prepare Americans for these jobs. We must expand on these successful efforts and ensure that our entire system is learning from them.”

Clearly, PCC is well situated to make a critical difference in clearing the path to jobs that lead to the growth of a thriving middle class. Our connections to the Workforce Investment Board, Pima County One Stop and JobPath have proven to be extremely beneficial. For example, by allying ourselves with One Stop to implement the Health Professions Opportunity Grant, we have been able to help hundreds formerly jobless men and women find careers in the fast-growing healthcare sector.

The report emphasizes the need to align training and curricula with employer needs and expectations. PCC is a member of the National Coalition of Certification Centers, and I can vouch for the importance of industry-driven credentials that validate the skills and knowledge we have imparted to our students.

The signing of the new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act is another generally positive step for workforce training. In addition to streamlining federal programs, this bipartisan legislation sets standards for measurements of effectiveness. The initiative aligns with the College’s goal of improving assessment through development of metrics regarding tangible outcomes to the extent that our access to data allows.

Looking ahead, it’s clear that the College should aggressively pursue resources that advance job training efforts. Our participation in the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program (TAACCCT) has been extremely successful, and is an example that should be replicated. As part of a consortium of the state’s community colleges, PCC prepares students for skilled, high-wage jobs in the energy industry. This program is geared to helping military veterans and other adult learners. Working in partnership the Tucson Electric Power Co. we have developed an Electrical Utility Technology certificate.

Our participation in an Arizona Commerce Authority-facilitated sector partnerships initiative also holds great potential. In sector partnerships, employers work with governments, educators, labor, economic development groups and community organizations on a holistic approach to growth. We can do our part by providing an education pipeline producing qualified workers such industries as aerospace, renewable energy and optics.

The College knows what is effective in helping people find meaningful work. Now we need to get to work. I am confident that by taking advantage of our improved, inclusive strategic planning structure, and with the leadership provided by our new Community Campus President, Dr. Lorraine Morales, we can effectively coordinate with our partners for the betterment of the community. PCC can, as President Obama said in his State of the Union address, set our students on an upward trajectory for life.

Powering the 21st-century economy

The need for well trained and qualified employees to power our 21st-century economy is one of the most pressing challenges facing our nation as we emerge from the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression. Community colleges are central to addressing this burgeoning skills gap, but we can’t do it alone.

 The problem is driven by several converging factors. First, the aging U.S. workforce: It is estimated that 40 percent of our nation’s workers will be eligible to retire in the next five years. Secondly, the increasing technological complexity of today’s economy, as evidenced by 3 million unfilled skilled jobs. Thirdly, the global nature of today’s economy is driving up the demand for highly skilled employees. Fourthly, today’s youth are either dropping out of school, or graduating less prepared in reading, writing and mathematics.

Mark Lautman, in his book, “When the Boomers Bail: How Demographics Will Sort Communities into Winners and Losers,” sums up the problem this way:  “What really worries me is what I don’t see: young people. That is, enough young people with the education, skills and experience to replace the 78 million Boomers. . . . It’s a problem that threatens the future of every community in the U.S. and most of the industrialized world.” 

As a founding member and current chair of the National Coalition of Certification Centers, or NC3, I am pleased to say that there is a growing and committed group of business and industry, education and government partners engaged in the search for meaningful solutions. Many of us got together recently at the ninth NC3 “train-the-trainer” event, the most successful Skills Instructor training event in the nation, at Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wis., and there was no shortage of creative ideas.

Our partnership group includes global industry sponsors Snap-on and Trane; 24 premier schools from the California, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Texas, Alabama, Oregon, North Dakota, Washington, Virginia, Kansas, Arizona, and Puerto Rico; and six  organizational partners, ranging from the Federal Aviation Administration, the American Association of Community Colleges, WDI, the Association for Career and Technical Education, the Manufacturing Institute and the Puget Sound Auto Dealers Association. All are committed to closing the educational and skills gap.

NC3 doesn’t get a lot of media attention but it should. The organization emphasizes learning that works to increase the competencies of the American workforce in three key sectors of the economy: transportation, energy and aviation. We have created and implemented a turn-key certification process, driven by industry-recognized certifications that are stackable, portable and third-party validated. Our system involves a network of highly trained and skilled professionals ranging from executives to instructors. To date, we have trained and certified more than 10,000 instructors and students across the nation.

The success of our organization has been recognized internationally. The NC3 certification process is currently being deployed in Morocco. We are in discussions with governments and schools in China, India, and across the Middle East and North Africa. All in all, it’s a pretty impressive record, especially as we have only been in existence for a few years.

NC3 is doing its part to prepare workers for the jobs of the future. We know that this must truly be a team effort and that the best way to achieve our shared goals is by leveraging our expertise through strategic partnerships. As the famous retailer James Cash Penney put it, “Growth is never by mere chance. It is the result of forces working together.”