Community and technical colleges ramp up machining programs for aerospace industry

Tuesday, March 13

Contacts: 

  • Mary Kaye Bredeson, Director for the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Materials Manufacturing, 425.388.9987, mbredeson@everettcc.edu
  • Jim Hills, Special Assistant to the President, Communications, Marketing and Government Relations at Shoreline Community College, 206.546.4634 office, 425.876.0927 cell, jhills@shoreline.edu

Eleven community and technical colleges in Washington state are among the first in the nation to implement a new national program touted by President Obama as key to getting Americans back to work. 

Working together, the 11 colleges are offering, or will soon offer, a two-quarter certificate in computer-numeric controlled machining. The course is designed specifically to meet the needs of the aerospace industry and move well-trained workers into well-paying jobs.

"This is exactly the kind of response industry, students and taxpayers need from our community and technical colleges," said Mary Kaye Bredeson, Director for the Center of Excellence for Aerospace and Advanced Materials Manufacturing based at Everett Community College. The Center is a one-stop resource center for education and industry in Washington.

The 11 Washington colleges are: Columbia Basin, Everett, Green River, Olympic, Shoreline, South Puget Sound and Yakima Valley community colleges along with Bates Technical College, Bellingham Technical College, Renton Technical College and Lake Washington Institute of Technology.

The national program, Right Skills Now, was designed by The Manufacturing Institute, an affiliate of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), to respond to the immediate talent crisis facing manufacturing industries across the country. According to a new study by The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, more than 80 percent of manufacturers report not finding people to fill skilled production jobs. As a result, there as many as 600,000 manufacturing jobs open right now in the United States, the report says.

Right Skills Now has gained national recognition as part of the efforts and recommendations endorsed by the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

"We are pleased to acknowledge the efforts in Washington to launch Right Skills Now," said Jennifer McNelly, Senior Vice President at the Manufacturing Institute. "The state joins a national community implementing this accelerated path built on the Manufacturing Skills Certification System, to train and deliver just-in-time talent to manufacturers so they can sustain and expand operations."

The key principles of Right Skills Now programs include:

  • Fast-tracked, for-credit career training
  • Industry credentials with value in the workplace
  • Pathways to advancement and degrees

Right Skills Now allows individuals to earn college credit and national industry certifications in two academic quarters, preparing them for immediate employment in high-quality manufacturing jobs and giving them a solid foundation to advance in higher education and careers. Training partners include ACT, the certifying body for the National Career Readiness Certificate - the foundational credential in the Manufacturing Skills Certification System - and the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), the certifying body for the series of machining and metalworking credentials. Right Skills Now fast-tracks and focuses career training in core employability and technical skills by "chunking" relevant curriculum that leads to interim credentials in critical machining skills.

In Washington, the 11 colleges patterned their courses after a two-quarter machining certificate program developed by Shoreline Community College instructor Keith Smith. Smith worked with members of his program's industry advisory council as well as other industry representatives to be sure course content is as up to date as possible. The program uses internships, a key component of Right Skills Now, with local companies to help students make the transition from acquired knowledge to applied skills. A key benefit is that Smith has already taken the Shoreline program through the rigorous certification process endorsed by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS).

The certificate is designed to meet employers' needs by quickly getting them workers with the required knowledge, skills and abilities and to meet students' needs by giving them employable skills now plus college credit, something they can build on in the future. 

"This is the first time we have a group of community and technical colleges all teaching the same curriculum, providing skills that are closely tied to employers' needs and offering a nationally recognized certification," Bredeson said. "Washington leads the way in aerospace manufacturing and now we're leading the way in aerospace manufacturing training."

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