Guest column: Michigan, you don’t know everything about manufacturing

By Jim Danielski/Career Planning Specialists

What … somebody recognized that manufacturing in the U.S. isn’t dead? That maybe, just maybe, the much touted service sector may actually be a byproduct of manufacturing?

Many of us, including me, believe that manufacturing will make a comeback – only it won’t be in the form of the "factory" that sucked the life out of my father and many just like him. You know the Diego Rivera mural at the DIA.

Anyway, when I received the email notice of "Filling the Skills Gap in Manufacturing: New Learning Tools & Opportunities" -- an Aug. 8 event at Henry Ford Community College -- I was intrigued. As a veteran career adviser, I am no longer surprised by the degrees of irrelevancy brought to the marketplace by graduates from many of our colleges and universities. I wondered, could it be that these folks at HFCC are onto something?

As it turns out, this is a specific rather than a general program falling in a relatively new category called Mechatronics or "Multi-Skilled Manufacturing Maintenance." Complete with an online method of pre- and post-assessment, modularized curriculum and a learning simulator, it prepares students for the challenges inherent in keeping advanced automotive manufacturing systems humming along.

What? Government, educators and employers actually collaborating on something? Yep, funded by the National Science Foundation and scientifically developed by The Automotive Manufacturing Education Collaborative, this program represents the efforts of  community colleges and automotive manufacturers and tiered suppliers in 12 states.

Ideas like contextual learning, industry driven standards and process transformation now come to life. Through Modularized learning, knowledge and skills can be built upon knowledge and skills (cumulative learning) resulting in upward mobility for workers and cost savings for manufacturers.

There is a continuous three-way assessment of employer requirements, curriculum content and before and after student competencies. The end result? A product (worker) that is relevant to the marketplace.

If you really look closely at the processes and methodology of this program, it has implications for our entire educational spectrum.

Finally, colleges and universities now scrambling to hire Chief Marketing Officers could learn something here: There is no better advertising than a successful, employed graduate.

You can learn more about this and other initiatives by exploring the following websites: http://www.autoworkforce.org/; http://www.hfcc.edu/programs/; and http://nga.org/cms/center.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact Monica WilliamsClick here for details and submission guidelines.

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