Developing the maximum potential of persons by means of expanding knowledge and aptitude is the objective of the foundational structure of becoming a “Lean company.” It is impossible for companies to achieve this objective without a comprehensive program of workforce development (referred to as Talent Development in the language of “Lean.”)
In a recent interview, Chris Paynter, Dean of STEM at Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) told me that part of the plan for achieving the College’s vision “to be the national leader in workforce development” was the reorganization of the college divisions of Science, Information Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics under one Dean to support the growth of these four interrelated fields as a unit.
But CPCC is not alone in recognizing the combined need for these fields in the modern, high-tech workforce. “The Committee on STEM Education (CoSTEM), comprised of 13 partner agencies—including all of the mission science agencies and the Department of Education—will facilitate a cohesive national strategy, with new and repurposed funds, to reorganize STEM education programs and increase the impact of federal investments in five areas: P-12 STEM instruction; increasing and sustaining public and youth engagement with STEM; improving the STEM experience of undergraduate students; better serving groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields; and designing graduate education for tomorrow’s STEM workforce.
Dean Paynter said that CPCC just celebrated their 50th anniversary and now has six campuses located throughout Mecklenburg County. CPCC’s mission is to be “an innovative and comprehensive college that advances the life-long educational development of students consistent with their needs, interests, and abilities while strengthening the economic, social, and cultural life of its diverse community.”
He said, “We believe that there is shared responsibility between employers, schools, and families in developing an educational infrastructure that provides a skilled STEM workforce for the greater Charlotte region.”
He explained that the College has created career pathways that have multiple entry points, such as High School graduates, military veterans, incumbent workers, and displaced workers to provide access to structured training paths for the development of highly sought after STEM career skills.
He added, “More and more employers are seeking graduates from associate degree programs because of the practical, applied, and competency-based nature of those programs. These graduates are able to quickly apply the real world job skills they leaned at school and are very productive when hired.”
CPCC is a “Learning College,” which means it places learning first and provides educational experiences for learners any way, anywhere, anytime. In support of this initiative, four core competencies have been identified as critical to the success of every CPCC graduate. The competencies are:
- Communication: the ability to read, write, speak, listen, and use nonverbal skills effectively with different audiences.
- Critical Thinking: the ability to think using analysis, synthesis, evaluation, problem solving, judgment, and the creative process.
- Personal Growth and Responsibility: the ability to understand and manage self, to function effectively in social and professional environments and to make reasoned judgments based on an understanding of the diversity of the world community.
- Information Technology and Quantitative Literacy the ability to locate, understand, evaluate, and synthesize, information and data in a technological and data driven society.
Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) recently joined 130 other community colleges from around the country as a member of the Achieving the Dream: Community Colleges Count! Initiative designed to identify new strategies to improve student success, close achievement gaps, and increase retention and completion rates.
Dean Paynter said that CPCC provides up-to-date technical skills to the Charlotte region’s workforce and employers. The CPCC Engineering Technologies Certification Center was created to assist this effort by providing proctored credentialing exams for nationally recognized third-party industry credentials, such as the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council, National Institute of Metalworking Skills, North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, Packaging Machinery Manufacturers Institute, Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program.
He added that advisors and instructors for CPCC’s Corporate Learning Center work with companies to assess their needs and recommend a customized solution, utilizing the comprehensive training approach offered by the IST Lab. Training can be scheduled at a time/date that is convenient for the client.
Companies that have benefited from this program include: Coca Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated, Sun Chemical, Timken, and Solectron.
Dean Paynter said that CPCC provides apprenticeship programs in partnership with local companies:
Apprenticeship Charlotte – Programs vary, but usually consist of an employer and student agreement and approval by an appropriate entity. In North Carolina, formal or registered apprenticeships are created in agreement with the N.C. Department of Labor (NCDOL).
Apprenticeship 2000 – The Apprenticeship 2000 program is a 4-year technical training partnership in the Charlotte, NC region designed to develop people for such a workforce. Juniors and seniors from local high schools are recruited: Some of the advantages include:
- AAS degree in Mechatronics Engineering Technology
- Apprenticeship Certification
- Earn a min. of $34,000/year at completion
- Benefits (Medical/Dental, Paid Holidays)
- Guaranteed Job after Graduation
CPCC works closely with the approximate 200 German companies with facilities in the Charlotte region, including BMW and Siemens. These companies employ about 15,000 people.
Dean Paynter said that earlier this month, CPCC and Festo Didactic SE, headquartered in Denkendorf, Germany, signed a letter of intent to establish a North American training center, to be located on CPCC’s Central Campus. The press release stated:
“The joint venture, to be called the “Festo-CPCC Learning Center of Excellence,” will be developed in stages, with the first stage operational by early 2015. The center will advocate the growth and development of advanced manufacturing in the United States, while giving CPCC students and incumbent workers a one-of-kind opportunity to become highly skilled operators of the latest high-tech manufacturing equipment.
Festo Didactic is a world-leading equipment and solution provider for industrial education. Festo Didactic designs and implements learning laboratories, educational equipment, and programs that train workers to perform in highly dynamic and complex industrial environments. The goal of Festo Didactic is to maximize learning success in educational institutions and industrial companies around the globe.
Festo AG, the parent company of Festo Didactic, is a global supplier of solutions in pneumatic and electrical automation technology to 300,000 customers of factory and process automation in more than 200 industries and 176 countries around the world.
‘We intend for our new joint venture to become the ‘gold standard’ for technical education and training in the United States and North America,” said Dr. Daniel Boese, managing director of Festo Didactic. “Through this large-scale initiative, we will advocate and promote advanced manufacturing as a viable, attractive and lifelong career option for students and new and incumbent workers in the U.S.’
‘One goal of this joint venture is to establish a showcase for advanced manufacturing and to create a broad-based sense of excitement and passion for the advanced manufacturing sector in the United States,’ said Dr. Tony Zeiss, CPCC president.
‘We have big ambitions for this center. We’ll endeavor to provide comprehensive workforce development and training programs and solutions to address, at regional and national levels, the ongoing mid-skills training gap that hinders U.S. advanced manufacturing,,,’ Zeiss said.”
This agreement follows an initiative the college undertook with German industry when it signed a cooperative education agreement with IHK Karlsruhe, a German regional chamber of industry and commerce in April 2012. CPCC became the first U.S. community college to offer IHK-certified job-training programs.
Engineering Summer Camps
In an effort to attract youth to manufacturing and other STEM careers, Dean Paynter said that the college also offers a one-week summer camp where students can learn hands on skills and apply their creativity. Math, science and engineering converge in camp activities and projects for a deeper understanding of how to apply these in real life. Using “contextual learning” high-school aged students build, analyze, and test either their own Bio-Mechanical Hand or own 3D Printer while learning fundamentals of electrical, mechanical, and computer engineering. At the end of the camp, the student is able to keep either the Bio-Mechanical Hand or 3D printer and have the knowledge and skills to fix it.
Workforce development is another way to address the skills gap in the manufacturing industry, as well as other science, math, and engineering career paths. In addition to focusing on training existing employees, companies need to be willing to hire and train older, unemployed workers that still have plenty of real-world know-how and technical expertise to off their employer. Many “Baby Boomers” would gladly delay their retirement if they had the opportunity to learn new skills to make their jobs more interesting and challenging.