as the workplace changes,” says Jerry
Weber, president of the College of Lake
County in suburban Chicago.
“I think industry itself is seeing the
importance of education and of higher-skilled individuals going into these
professions,” adds Lee’s Coffman.
Leaders from both colleges meet regularly with economic advisory boards
consisting of educators and representatives from local employers to better understand local employer needs. If there
is a demand for process technicians, for
instance, officials will look at ways the
college can help. The same is true for
welders, pipefitters, architectural drafters, and so on.
PHOTO COURTESY COLLEGE OF LAKE COUNTY
College of Lake County student Darnell Anderson, a recipient of a Grainger Tools for
Tomorrow Scholarship, and an instructor use a diagnostic tool to access data from the
onboard computer in a Ford Mustang.
“What we offer mirrors the needs of
our community,” says Coffman. “Fifty
percent of our students go into applied
science and certificate programs, which
leads to direct employment.”
of American work. (For the full report,
20 Demand for Postsecondary Education by 2018
New and replacement demand
( 46. 8 million by 2018)
13. 8 million
Source: Center on Education and the Workforce forecasts of educational demand to 2018, Georgetown University.
Across the country, the line between
blue- and white-collar work is disappearing. Even the most manual and hands-on
machine operation—require advanced
schooling and specialized skill. Technical
jobs that for years have been associated
with images of tool belts and hard hats
present an opportunity for high-wage
SupplyLink facility operations estimates that maintenance technicians
make an average of $56,000 a year. With
overtime, some technicians make well
into six figures. Welders average $35,000
to $80,000, plus overtime.
Recognizing the demand for workers
in the industrial trades, W. W. Grainger,
Inc., a maintenance, supply, and operations
company, partnered with the American Association of Community Colleges to create
the Tools for Tomorrow scholarship program. The awards assist students enrolled
in programs such as welding, plumbing,
automotive mechanics, and construction.
In the 2010–11 academic year, the
scholarship’s fifth, Grainger will provide 75
U.S. community colleges with two $2,000
scholarships for students enrolled in industrial training programs. Winning students
receive the money and a Westward toolkit
outfitted for the trade of their choosing.
In recognition of the thousands of
veterans returning home from war in
Afghanistan and Iraq—many of whom
will soon enroll in community colleges for
updated job training—one-third of this
26 COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOURNAL December 2010/January 2011