At an appearance earlier today in Pennsylvania, President Obama announced a plan to develop manufacturing employee apprentice models. As part of this same effort, South Central College will lead a “Minnesota Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Pilot,” focused on apprenticeships in  high need advanced manufacturing occupations. “We are honored to be a part of this important national effort, which will benefit Minnesota by providing our manufacturers with the technically trained employees they need and giving our residents opportunities to excel in high demand fields,” said South Central College President Dr. Annette Parker.

A Fact Sheet released by the White House earlier today, in advance of the President’s announcement said: Led by South Central College in southern Minnesota, a coalition of 24 community colleges and employers is pioneering a statewide apprenticeship model in mechatronics. The full Fact Sheet is available at: whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/16/fact-sheet-american-job-training-investments-skills-and-jobs-build-stron.

The “Minnesota Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Pilot” will begin with South Central College working in partnership with companies in southern Minnesota to develop scalable apprenticeship models in mechatronics, as well as computer integrated machining and welding. The pilot will then expand to include employers statewide partnering with higher education institutions in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, including those that are partners in MnSCU’s two manufacturing focused “Centers of Excellence”– the Minnesota Center for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence and 360-degrees Center for Excellence. The pilot also will also incorporate industry and community college partnerships with K-12 institutions.

“Manufacturing is a critical sector of the Minnesota economy, but success often comes down to a company’s ability to find employees with advanced training and hands-on experience using the latest manufacturing technologies,” said Steven Rosenstone, chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. “Apprenticeships like those made possible through this pilot are a proven way to provide graduates with exactly the kind of training and experience employers need for their companies to grow. That’s good for our students, for manufacturers and for Minnesota. We are very pleased to be part of the national leadership of this initiative and to be working with manufacturers across the state to accelerate training and continue serving as the partner of choice to meet Minnesota’s workforce needs.”

To develop successful scalable apprenticeship models, South Central College is looking for companies of all sizes to participate in the southern Minnesota phase of the Apprenticeship Pilot. 3M and Bosch Automotive Service Solutions have already committed to the pilot, and South Central College is inviting more companies to participate at two planned Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Summits to be held this week in Faribault on April 17 and in North Mankato April 18.  “These Summits provide a tremendous opportunity for a productive discussion centered on actionable solutions to meeting the workforce needs of manufacturers, which in the process will also provide tremendous opportunities for our students and communities,” said Parker.

The effort to develop apprenticeship models is being spearheaded at the national level by President Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP). South Central College President Annette Parker is one of 19 business and education leaders on the national AMP Steering Committee. She also is co-chair of the AMP “Demand-Driven Workforce” work group, with other South Central college staff making significant contributions to this work as well. In addition to establishing apprenticeship models, AMP has three other workforce goals: implementing a national credentialing system, developing advanced manufacturing educational pathways and granting credit for prior experience for veterans. South Central College’s apprenticeship pilot is the first step in the college’s overall “Minnesota Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Pilot,” which will include initiatives associated with all four of AMP’s interrelated goal areas.

In today’s statement, the White House also indicated that a total of nearly $600 million will be allocated for these types of projects, $500 million as part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance and Community College and Career Training (TAA-CCCT) competitive grant program and $100 million in H-1B funds for American Apprenticeship Grants. South Central College will be applying for grants to support part of the Minnesota Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Pilot.

For more information on the Minnesota Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Pilot, visit southcentral.edu/pilot.

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South Central College (SCC) is a comprehensive community and technical college that is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System (MnSCU), with campuses in Faribault and North Mankato. SCC has more than 50 technical career and professional programs, with a variety of Certificate and Associate degree options. The college also offers a liberal arts and sciences curriculum that enables learners to earn an Associate in Arts degree from SCC before transferring to complete a Bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university. SCC is an Affirmative Action Equal Opportunity Employer/Educator.