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Macomb Community College shares highlights of coalition’s success in helping address manufacturing skills gap

– Monday, October 9, 2017 9:00AM

Four-year project aligned technical education with industry needs

A consortium of eight community colleges – led by Macomb Community College – released the results of a four-year project, funded by a $24.9 million U.S. Department of Labor grant.  The Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing (M-CAM) was designed to train displaced and underemployed individuals for manufacturing jobs in high demand: CNC machining, mechatronics/multi-skilled technician, welding/fabrication and production.  The highly successful coalition enrolled more than 140 percent of the student goal, aligned curriculum with industry standards and certifications, drove wage increases and doubled the number of employer relationships throughout the project.

“This project demonstrated what is possible when there is close collaboration between community colleges and employers,” said Joe Petrosky, dean, Engineering and Advanced Technology, Macomb Community College.  “Not only were we able to provide employers with the skilled workers they need to sustain and grow their businesses, but we were also changing the lives of our community members by connecting them to sustainable-wage jobs and career pathways with a dynamic future.”

King Jermaine Jones was one student who personally saw the impact of the program. His last job was as a supervisor at a call center before he again found himself unemployed and without marketable job skills. Then a friend told him about M-CAM at Macomb Community College. Jones completed the controls robotics technician program and, before he even graduated, had a good paying job in a vibrant and growing industry.

“I was hired so many times before and then fired before I even started when they saw that I had a criminal record,” said Jones.  “But after completing this program, no one seemed to care about my criminal record as long as I could do the job.

“It’s the opportunity that has made all the difference. It’s life changing and lifesaving. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Macomb.”

According to the Manufacturing Institute’s report, The skills gap in U.S. manufacturing 2015 and beyond, 3.5 million U.S. manufacturing jobs are expected to open over the next ten years, but the gap between employer need and available skilled employees will leave two million of those jobs vacant. The M-CAM report cited numerous factors driving this widening gap including a growing number of baby boomer retirements, automation and technological transformation in the manufacturing industry, a lack of high school technical education programs, increased competition for highly trained employees and a negative perception of careers in manufacturing. Also cited was a lack of competitive wages to draw the more highly skilled workers to unfilled openings.

M-CAM ran from 2014 through 2017 and included Bay College, Grand Rapids Community College, Kellogg Community College, Lake Michigan College, Lansing Community College, Macomb Community College, Mott Community College and Schoolcraft College. Some of the project’s successes include:

  • 3,925 students enrolled in participating programs, 143 percent of the target goal. Macomb was the most successful at recruitment, enrolling 255 percent of its target.

  •  Seventy-nine percent of participants exited M-CAM services with a college certificate, professional credential or college degree. 
  • Eighty-three percent of those students completing the program were employed by the end of the first quarter after exit. 
  • Seventy percent of incumbent worker participants who completed training earned a wage increase. Before enrolling in the program, incumbent workers had an average wage of $15.91, after completing the program they made, on average, $17.25.  
  • The number of employer partnerships nearly doubled from 204 to 392 during the program.

For more information:

Evaluation of the Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing - Executive Summary

Evaluation of the Michigan Coalition for Advanced Manufacturing – Full Report

About Macomb Community College
Macomb Community College (www.macomb.edu) is one of the nation’s leading community colleges, providing learning experiences to nearly 40,000 students annually. Macomb nationally ranks in the top two percent in the number of associate degrees awarded by community colleges and is the largest grantor of associate degrees in Michigan. The college’s comprehensive educational programming includes pre-collegiate experiences, university transfer and career preparation programs, bachelor degree completion and graduate degree programs, workforce training, professional education and certification, and continuing education and enrichment opportunities. 

Media Contact:  Sean M. Patrick, 586.445.7271, patricks28@macomb.edu