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NCWE Thought Leader Blog - Blondin and Van Noy
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Scaling the Lessons Learned from TAACCCT to Benefit the Entire College

Jo Alice Blondin, Ph.D.
Clark State Community College
Michelle Van Noy, Ph.D.
Associate Director
Education and Employment Research Center
School of Management and Labor Relations
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Since receiving a $2.5 million Department of Labor TAACCCT grant in 2014, Clark State Community College in Springfield, Ohio, has kept a laser focus on expanding training opportunities in manufacturing in the region the college serves. With 40% of the workforce reliant on manufacturing and manufacturing-related jobs in the region, the college’s leadership in manufacturing training and education is critical to the economy. The TAACCCT grant itself served as the necessary catalyst for change in the manufacturing and engineering programs and throughout the college as a whole.

Prior to receiving the TAACCCT grant, Clark State trained fewer than twenty students annually in general manufacturing. Since 2014, the college has, to date, trained more than 450 students in eight stackable certificates (Welding, Additive Manufacturing, CNC, Industrial Maintenance, SCADA, CAD, Robotics, and Manufacturing) and an associate’s degree. As a result of this success, Clark State began to explore the next “stackable” step in the degree program: a Bachelor of Applied Science in Manufacturing Technology Management.

In the 2018-19 Budget, Ohio’s then Governor, John Kasich, requested legislation that would allow for specific job-focused baccalaureate degrees to be offered by community colleges to fill critical workforce needs in our communities. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, over the next decade, nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs will be needed, and 2 million are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap. Moreover, according to the same report, 80 percent of manufacturers report a moderate or serious shortage of qualified applicants for skilled and highly skilled production positions, specifically in supervisory roles. Additionally, for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $1.40 is added to the economy. Clearly, the statistics demonstrated that this industry need, critical to Ohio’s economic future, must be addressed at all credential levels. Clark State, in a strong position as a result of the TAAACT grant, could provide training and educational support at all levels for this vital industry.

Based on Clark State’s intensive and collaborative work with more than forty manufacturing businesses across the region and the reality of the nation’s skills gap, the college’s Board of Trustees, administration, and faculty decided to move forward in offering this degree. The college worked through the application, approval, and accreditation process for the Bachelor of Applied Science in Manufacturing Technology Management and received official approval in late spring 2019. The college accepted its first class of Bachelor’s degree students and began instruction in August 2019.

This degree complemented the existing certificates and associate degree program, and also signaled the next logical step in the career pathway for students who wished to gain supervisory skills and progress in their field. In fact, the intentional focus on career pathways in Clark State’s manufacturing program signaled to the rest of the campus community a need to scale similar pathways’ models across the college, particularly in healthcare programs.

Career pathways were not the only change that resulted from the TAACCCT grant. The career navigator model, used successfully to guide students in manufacturing programs as part of the grant, was scaled to the entire campus. In 2014, the college had 3.5 FTE as academic advisors. In 2019, the college employs 10 FTE as “success coaches,” and these coaches are based on the career navigator model.

The college embraced and scaled the components of the TAACCCT grant that created impact within that specific program. While still early in their adoption, positive outcomes as a result of career pathways’ implementation in healthcare and the scaling of success coaches have already registered. The college will launch the first-year guided pathways healthcare curriculum in January 2020 for nearly 1500 students, and the success coaches’ model has had a positive impact on retention, with an increase in retention from 70% in 2013 to 76% in 2018.

Community colleges train the future workforce and upskill the current workforce in order to be responsive to industry needs. As a result of this mission, community colleges must be flexible and offer multiple pathways and supports that foster student success and, in turn, economic growth.

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