Skyrocketing student enrollment in manufacturing programs leads to creative solutions by economically strapped schools

Posted by LDonia on 07/31/2012

Manufacturing ImageryWhen the Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, MN graduated 20 students in June, the school received 400 inquiries about those students from manufacturers.

This is good news for the 120 students Dunwoody will have enrolled in the school’s various manufacturing programs this year. While Minneapolis has a large medical devices industry driving the demand for skilled workers, it’s certainly not a trend limited to that region.

Parija Kavilanz, writing for CNN Money, shares similar stories at schools in Wyoming and Georgia. Not only is demand for the graduates high, but enrollment has increased so much, many schools are having problems accommodating students. Some schools have created wait-lists, hired new teachers, and purchased new equipment, but each school mentions budgetary restraints in finding ways to deal with the increased interest.

New students range in age from recent high school graduates, to laid-off workers and even current factory workers learning new skills.

Unlike 20 years ago, manufacturing today requires workers who are computer literate and skilled in computer-aided design and engineering, said Sandra Krebsbach, executive director of the American Technical Education Association.

Many companies are re-shoring jobs back to the United States, which is partially responsible for leading the surge in student interest in these programs. Also piquing interest? The $50,000-$80,000 starting salaries being offered for highly skilled workers.

The Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) has included education as part of its National Manufacturing Strategy.

Specifically, AAM’s plan cites a need to:

Refocus on technical and vocational education, providing a seamless program that bridges high school and post-secondary education to produce the next generation of highly skilled manufacturing workers.

It’s exciting to see demand and enthusiasm for these types of jobs grow, and to see schools providing the training for workers who will ultimately comprise the backbone of the American economy.

Read more here.

Photo by flickr user joguldi, used following Creative Commons guidelines.

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