To gain an advanced manufacturing job, many Americans will need to upgrade their skills. Most workers cannot afford to quit their current jobs to go back to school full-time. Instead, part-time programs are needed, so that workers can build upon their current skills while still bringing home a paycheck. Existing programs, such as an associates degree in advanced manufacturing engineering technology, take years to complete on a part-time schedule. Programs could be modeled after Tennessee’s successful part-time training program.
Oak Ridge Associated Universities offers a one-year, 25-hour-per-week Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Certificate. The training program is run by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE), a U.S. Department of Energy-sponsored education and research program. Pellissippi State, a local Tennessee community college, administers the training program at its facility.
Through a similar model, community colleges in any state could align their curriculums with national best practices in advanced manufacturing. Creating a similar part-time, one-year certificate could open the middle-class job opportunities in advanced manufacturing to workers who currently have low-wage jobs. Additionally, community colleges could begin to offer their own part-time training programs that allow workers to prepare for an advanced manufacturing certificate while remaining employed. Creating part-time programs would allow hard-working Americans to upgrade their skills and move into the middle class.