Manufacturing companies and community colleges share a problem. Schools want students to enter their career and technical programs (CTE). And companies want the students who graduate from those programs to work for them. But both must overcome the perception that these programs and jobs are meant for low-ambition people or those who are resigned to careers of low pay. A number of recent articles explore the ways companies and higher education schools are tackling this dilemma. One way is through marketing campaigns. Another is by working together so that students get hands-on experience and can learn directly from those who work for the types of businesses they want to join.

As University Business has reported, community colleges are investing in marketing campaigns that emphasize the earning potential of careers in skilled trades. Some of these efforts target demographics not traditionally associated with particular fields. Women are invited to careers like welding and manufacturing. Men are courted to become teachers and nurses. Hands-on and virtual demonstrations complement these campaigns. In one example, California Community Colleges are trying to attract students by letting them wear virtual reality goggles that simulate a lab or work environment.

A letter to the editor in the Free Press (Mankato, MN) describes the need for universities and businesses to work together on developing people ready for the workforce. The chancellor of Minnesota State, one of the country’s largest systems of two-year colleges and four-year universities, describes a challenge requiring a million jobs over the next 10 years, of which nearly 75 percent will require post-secondary education. He emphasizes the importance of public-private partnerships, some of which take the form of funded scholarships. Through government funding, Minnesota colleges can obtain equipment that students use for hands-on training.

An article in Industry Week looks at workforce development programs in Kentucky, where high schools, higher-ed institutions, and businesses combine apprenticeships, job shadowing and summer employment to prepare graduates for the workforce. GE Appliances is leading a number of these training programs, including one that will give high school students the opportunity to take a virtual tour of GE Appliances and talk with employees about their responsibilities, job opportunities, and the education and experience they’ll need. Students will also be given the chance to solve real-world problems facing the company.

As community colleges and other post-secondary schools build workforce centers to compete with for-profit trade schools, they will need to have the technology that will attract students because it takes them beyond the classroom. That technology can take the form of advanced visualization and simulation systems. It also includes video collaboration systems that bring together groups of students and mentors. AVI-SPL specializes in designing, building, integrating and supporting the technology systems that companies and schools are using to teach students so they will be ready to work in well-paying, high-demands jobs after high school or college. You can see examples of our work for North Carolina State University, Florida International University, and the University of Toledo. In each of these schools, the solutions we implemented are essential to their educational programs. Contact us at or 866-559-8197 to discuss your workforce initiatives and see which solutions AVI-SPL may provide to support them.



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