The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

April 20, 2014

SCC leads the way on work ed

Why it matters: Project helps area provide talented workforce for future

The importance of higher education has never been more pronounced than with the changes occurring in our economy, especially in manufacturing.

Bloomberg News noted that manufacturing accounts for 80 percent of our exports and for every one high-tech manufacturing job, there are 16 additional jobs to help support it. But with the nation’s over-emphasis on four year college degrees, the challenge has been to train our workforce to meet these 21st century needs.

A national pilot project at South Central College will tackle that problem.

The community college will work with companies to provide apprenticeship hands-on learning at manufacturing companies that likely will lead to well-paying, full-time jobs.

SCC President Annette Parker is one of 19 people serving on the national Advanced Manufacturing Partnership steering committee that helped develop the program announced by President Obama. One of those companies, 3M, confirmed that in today’s highly automated environment, more skilled trades people are needed. And once people find out such two-year training can lead to a well-paying job, the word will spread.

The average starting wage after an apprenticeship is projected to be about $50,000.

Area business leaders have been long pushing for expanding the available pool of talented workers as a key to the area’s success. The SCC project fits well in that strategic goal and this rare chance is notable since only two other states — California and Texas — will have similar projects.

This is a pretty impressive start for a new SCC president who has yet to be formally installed.

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