Area's Community and Technical Colleges Drive Advanced Manufacturing Engine with Talent

Northern Kentucky is home to a number of advanced manufacturing corporations that require an ever-evolving talent base to help fill the ranks of jobs they produce. A consistent stream of specialized talent pours into Northern Kentucky from the area's competitive technical and community colleges. In many cases, the school's co-op education experiences have paved the way in training a talented workforce towards career success.
At Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, the school's focus is geared towards helping students gain the knowledge they need to be employable and successful in their chosen field. Their connection to over 800 employers results in retention of the area's talent in high paying careers.

The school's success is in its numbers. In 2007, Cincinnati State saw 3,000 co-op placements accounting for over $7 million in earnings by co-op students. Within six months of graduation, almost all graduates report being employed or enrolled in further education. Even more impressive is the fact that 87 percent of employed Cincinnati State graduates are more likely to be working in jobs related to their majors—almost ten percent more than the national average for two-year colleges.

Dr. Angie Taylor, Dean of Training and Development Services at Gateway Community and Technical College in Covington, also helps feed the advanced manufacturing engine through the college's impressive customizable training programs. "The mission of a community college is to be of service to employers," says Taylor. "Where traditional colleges focus on the academic, we focus on careers."

Gateway Community and Technical College services over 3,500 students per year and has quickly become a key strategic partner for the region since its branding in 2002. "We are constantly meeting with employers looking at what level of skill they need while providing customized training to enable skill upgrades," says Taylor.

"Training for careers involves much more than just identifying skill sets and applying aptitude tests," says Dr. Taylor.

"Adults need to receive information that can be immediately implemented into their jobs, but skills need to have meaning to the student or they're not going to enjoy their work. It doesn't matter if you're on the floor of a factory, in a hospital wing or standing at a bank, your work has got to be important to you."

Ensuring work satisfaction also requires specialized training for supervisors as well. "We do a boat-load of supervisory training because managers need to be able to offer feedback and continue to grow as well. We need them to be able to say 'Aha, that's how I can teach that skill,' in order to continue to create great people."

More than merely a preparatory program for four-year degrees, Gateway also offers a number of training and certification programs for area businesses, many of which come from the Northern Kentucky Industrial Park located in Florence, KY.

"It happens frequently that employers will 'mandate' training for their employees," says Taylor.

As it turns out, being 'mandated' can sometimes lead to disgruntled students who are reticent to attend training. But Dr. Taylor is no longer surprised to see those disgruntled students turn around by the end of the session and ask what else they can learn at Gateway or how they might be able to get their children enrolled.

Hearing those types of stories helps Dr. Taylor know she's enjoying her job.

"I eat sleep and breathe this stuff. Listen, education is a business strategy – if we want to remain self-sufficient economically, we need to get behind education."

Writer: Jeff Syroney
Sources: Dr. Angie Taylor, Gateway Community and Technical College
Cincinnati State Technical and Community College
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