Creating Career Pathways for Manufacturing Systems Technicians
Community colleges face significant challenges when designing technician education programs for occupations that are not defined by a single job title. To address this important national issue, Chemeketa Community College in Oregon will collaborate with food and beverage processors and processing equipment manufacturers to develop a new education program for manufacturing systems technicians. The goal is to develop an industry-driven program with stackable certificates embedded in a two-year associate degree, and with clear pathways to employment in high wage fields and/or a baccalaureate degree. As courses are developed, the project will use a work-based learning model that allows employees to engage both in the classroom and on the job. In this way, employees and employers can immediately benefit from the new skills and knowledge that the employees are learning. This industry-driven project is designed to develop a prototype that could be useful regionally and nationally for addressing technician education in other areas such aerospace and technology manufacturing, both growing manufacturing sectors with large existing companies.
Project activities will include conducting a DACUM (Developing a Curriculum), the occupational analysis process developed by Ohio State University that is used extensively in developing two-year college workforce programs. Based on the DACUM results, programs and courses in current associate degree technician programs at the institution will be reorganized and modified to fit the needs of the cross-sector group of industry partners. As needed, new courses will be created to meet industry-specific requirements. For example, industry partners have indicated that they increasingly use automated processes and robots to improve quality of products and reduce costs. To accommodate these changes in manufacturing processes, this project will research, develop, and disseminate curriculum to prepare workers with the skills and knowledge to set up, operate, test, and maintain these machines.