Community College Best Practice Revitalizes Manufacturing

By Dora Smith

This weekend the Des Moines Register reported that “Iowa sees shortage of skilled workers.” It’s not unique to Iowa. Technically skilled workforce shortages abound in the United States. It’s why the president noted in his State of the Union address “growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job.”

Today we announced a new community college program to revitalize manufacturing. We’re taking a best practice developed at Iowa Western Community College and offering it as a blueprint to community colleges around the country. To give you more information on this program, I talked to both Dr. Kinney of Iowa Western and Bill Boswell from our company.

LISTEN to this audio podcast with Iowa Western’s Dr. Kinney

WATCH this video interview with Siemens PLM’s Bill Boswell 

You can download a white paper that explains the best practice in detail, including information on establishing an advisory board with local manufacturers. Both community colleges and manufacturers will find it helpful in developing similar creative solutions to the technically trained workforce shortage. In addition, community colleges can receive a copy of Iowa Western’s Design Technology program curiculum.

In the interviews above, both Dr. Kinney and Bill mention Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training at the U.S. Department of Labor. In just two weeks, they’ll all be at PLM Connection Americas. Join them for these presentations on Tuesday: 

  • 8:20 a.m. – Crisis in Manufacturing: Global Aging Workforce, Product Complexity, and the Education Gap, Bill Boswell
    If there are so many people out of work, why are there so many technical jobs that are going unfilled today? On the heels of a global recession, companies are now facing demographic, education, and experience challenges that, without careful planning and collaboration, will result in crisis. Learn how Siemens PLM Software can help.

  • 8:35 a.m. – Closing the Technical Workforce Gap – The Role of Academic, Government, and Business Collaboration in STEM Education, Jane Oates
    The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) is the federal agency charged with supporting the efficient functioning of the U.S. labor market by providing job training, employment, labor market information, and income support for workers who have lost their jobs. Millions of employees have been dislocated from their jobs in traditional industries and need new skills to compete for jobs in the labor market. Now more than ever, there is fierce global competition for an educated workforce. To address these economic dynamics, the ETA is strengthening partnerships across federal agencies, developing clear career pathways that lead to attainment of industry-recognized credentials, developing better virtual career tools, and investing in “earn and learn” training strategies.

  • 9:30 a.m. – PLM & the Community College Role in Revitalized Manufacturing in the U.S,  Dr. Kinney & Bill Boswell
    Manufacturing has an immediate critical need for qualified technology-trained professionals to sustain America’s ability to be an innovation leader. Community colleges can play an important role in helping manufacturing companies with technically-trained local resources. Iowa Western Community College (IWCC) aligned with industry and business partners to plan and develop an innovative 2-year Design Technology associate degree program for community college students with focuses on Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) technology and skills. The program includes upgrading incumbent workers skills as well as training dislocated workers and minorities. Siemens PLM Software and IWCC have now partnered to make this curriculum and program available as a best practice model.

If for some crazy reason you’re not attending PLM Connection, stay tuned here. I’ll share some of the highlights. In the meantime, download the white paper and see if what Iowa Western has done is something you can do in your local community.

– Dora

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at