You have read a lot in these pages regarding a Skills Gap causing shortages of qualified workers. In the March 2015 Midwest Manufacturing News, the author cited a World Economic Forum report describing how manufacturers are looking into partnerships to train highly skilled machine tool technicians. The report states “The manufacturing sector has a fundamental role to play in global economic growth and job creation,” and surveys continue to cite the lack of qualified labor as a significant problem for many companies.

Community Colleges in Michigan have partnered with local firms to collaborate on 3 year school-work rotations allowing students to earn an AAS degree as well as earn a career. Now Harper College in northern Illinois has partnered with the German-American Chambers of Commerce to develop trained Industrial Maintenance technicians. Similar to Michigan’s MAT2, the three year rotation is called the Illinois Consortium for Advanced Technical Training (ICATT) and starts with high school graduates, culminates in an AAS degree, but goes on to include another two year commitment by the partnering firms to ensure robust careers to the students. Tuition is paid by the firms so the students have no debt when they finish their education.

We will see more collaborations between educational institutions and businesses as all look for innovative ways to quickly get skilled help into the workforce.

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