U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez recently called community colleges the “secret sauce” of economic and workforce development. In his talk at the National Governors Association summer conference in West Virginia, he used Front Range Community College as his example of “the secret sauce.”
Filling the Pipeline with Skilled Manufacturing Workers
To flesh out Secretary Perez’s comments about FRCC’s Precision Machining Program, FRCC is the lead college for a $25 million grant under the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Act. The grant is intended to develop a pipeline of skilled manufacturing workers.
FRCC used about $10 million of the grant to open a Machining and Advanced Manufacturing Program at an Advanced Technology Center at the Boulder County Campus in Longmont.
Businesses & Community Colleges Work Together
As Secretary Perez notes, the level of engagement by businesses is an important factor in developing a successful education curriculum. Manufacturers in northern Colorado played a large part in designing the Advanced Technology Center, from what machines to put in place to what content to teach.
It’s paying off. Seventeen year-old Wynnston Corona went directly from FRCC to Cutter Innovations.
Training Power-Plant Operators
Another portion of the grant was used to purchase a steam turbine power plant and associated equipment that has been installed at Colorado State University’s Powerhouse Energy Campus at 430 N. College Ave. in Fort Collins. Students in the Manufacturing and Energy Technology Program can train to be power-plant technicians and operators. Incidentally, this program was developed in direct response to local industry and with industry’s participation in the curriculum and direction of the program.
Community College Graduates All Around You
It’s not just in these industry sectors that FRCC and other community colleges add the secret sauce.
- Have you had your vital signs taken when you’ve gone to the doctor? This could have been done by a certified medical assistant.
- Been to the dentist lately? Maybe a dental assistant from an accredited program was chairside.
- Been hospitalized? FRCC’s Nursing programs graduate more nursing students than any community college in Colorado.
- Do you have children in day care? Your early childhood education director or teacher may have graduated from a community college program.
From Small to Large Businesses You’ll Find the Secret Sauce
Community college graduates are your architectural drafters, your auto mechanics, your CAD technicians, your computer technicians, your network technicians, your EMTs, your GIS technicians, your HVAC technicians, your nurse aides, your pharmacy technicians, your veterinary technicians, your welders, and so much more.
The Secretary of Labor has visited companies and community colleges throughout the United States and has seen how they work together. He knows that community colleges are a key ingredient in the recipe for economic success.