Editor’s note: The Nevada Appeal presented the Carson City Board of Supervisors, the mayor and city manager an opportunity for a column. Supervisor Jim Shirk will appear next Sunday:
Libraries are a magnificent blend of the old and the new. Historically a repository of recorded knowledge as well as centers for lifelong learning and social interaction, today’s libraries also offer cutting edge technology designed to provide educational resources to support and expand digital literacy among all members of the community. Being digitally literate is just as vital as being able to read these days. As the state Capital, it is good to know that our very own Carson City Library is at the national forefront of this changing environment.
Since November of 2013, with the help of Western Nevada College and our business community, the Carson City School Board, the Board of Supervisors and the Library Board of Trustees, co-adopted strategic plans that are implementing community-based learning opportunities for all of our residents. Indeed, we are perhaps the only community in Nevada where all of these policy boards and constituencies routinely meet for the purpose of coordinating our community’s educational and workforce development efforts by aligning strategic goals and methods. This “co-adopted” framework allows each constituency and institutional partner the ability to focus on what it does best and at the same time moves the community forward with common educational purpose. This collaborative approach has already paid dividends.
By way of example, in March of this year, Carson City was featured nationally for a new program called Nevada’s Working Capital (NWC). NWC is an aligned partnership led by the Carson City Library. The resources for this program were achieved by our Library through a competitive grant from the Institute of Museums and Libraries that was predicated upon a demonstration of innovation and 21st century library services. Collaboration from the Carson City School District, Western Nevada College and a national partner, the Manufacturing Skills Institute form the foundation of the NWC program.
It’s no secret the lack of a trained workforce has been one of the more important reasons why economic diversification has had a difficult time taking root in Northern Nevada. If it was not already apparent, the development of Tesla Motor’s Gigafactory in our backyard has shined a high-beam light on the importance of a trained and educated workforce. WNC’s President, Chet Burton, has met on more than one occasion with Tesla’s human resource directors. Those directors have related to him the biggest area of operational concern for Tesla is the availability of workers capable of performing jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. That concern is shared by members of our own manufacturing community.
Nevada’s Working Capital is designed to help fill that gap. Through NWC an apprenticeship program has been implemented that focuses on science, technology, engineering, art and math (S.T.E.A.M.). These skills are essential for local jobs in our community’s advanced manufacturing businesses. One part of the NWC program brings the opportunity to earn a nationally recognized manufacturing certification, the MT1, to Nevada. The MT1 certificate program was created by the American Manufacturer’s Association through the Manufacturing Skills Institute. This certification program is open to high school seniors and graduates, 18 years of age or over and shows a person’s skill in:
Math and measurement;
Spatial reasoning and manufacturing technology;
Manufacturing processes; and
There are three avenues by which one can earn a MT1 certificate:
A library patron with a high school diploma can attend a free 16 week program at The Carson City Library led by a qualified instructor to prepare for the MT1 exam;
Students at WNC can take classes toward their Automated & Industrial Systems two-year degree and earn the MT1 certificate at the same time and in the same class; and
Carson High School seniors can take FastTrack classes to earn college credits and the MT1 certification at the same time.
Nevada’s Working Capital is an intentional play on words to highlight that we are putting our capital to work to yield a highly employable community-based skilled workforce. The opportunity to earn the MT1 through the Carson City Library is the first of its kind in America. Congratulations to all those who have brought this program to fruition. It will continue to pay dividends on many level.
Robert Crowell is mayor of Carson City. He can be reached at (775) 283-7550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.