Higher education prepares new workforce

Randy Walden, Director of Technical Sciences, demonstrates instructional equipment at Truckee Meadows Community College's Applied Technology Center on Edison Way.

Randy Walden, Director of Technical Sciences, demonstrates instructional equipment at Truckee Meadows Community College's Applied Technology Center on Edison Way.

Northern Nevada will need a skilled workforce to fill the jobs coming to the region. Truckee Meadows Community College and the University of Nevada, Reno are working to provide programs that will train students to fill these jobs.

Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN) forecasts that more than 50,000 jobs will be created in the next five years by the companies who are relocating into northern Nevada.

Many of these jobs will require technical and manufacturing training.

TMCC’s technical sciences division provides programs in construction technologies, manufacturing technologies, transportation technologies and energy technologies and more.

“The big interest right now is in manufacturing,” Jim New, dean of the technical sciences division at TMCC, said. “The new companies that are coming in are going to need hundreds of technicians so we have to start training them now.”

TMCC is modifying the content and the delivery method of how they teach these students. The college offers modules where students are able to work at their own pace in an instructor assisted lab as opposed to sitting in a lecture hall specific times a week. Students pass on to the next module only after passing a written exam with 90 percent proficiency and 100 percent hands-on proficiency.

The community college is also working directly with the new companies settling in the region to target specific companies needs.

“We are modifying the curriculum as we meet with companies to meet their needs,” Jim New, said.

For instance, TMCC met with people from the Tesla gigafactory and learned many of their employees already have electrical training. So instead of having the employees take a module they already have training in they can focus on learning new skills.

TMCC’s technical sciences division also offers programs in solar energy, wind energy, unmanned aerial systems, construction management, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC/R) and more.

According to New, technicians in the HVAC/R field will be paid around $25-$27 an hour.

TMCC serves more than 16,000 students in state-supported programs and another 9,600 students in non-credit workforce development classes. Classes for the 2016 spring semester start Saturday, January 23.

University of Nevada, Reno is also working to prepare student to enter this growing workforce. UNR offers more than 145 degree programs including minors in batteries and energy storage technologies, cyber security, unmanned autonomous systems and more.

UNR currently has a record enrollment of nearly 21,000 students.

“The University is growing faster than we ever could of anticipated,” President Marc Johnson said at the NNBW Most Influential Panel Discussion and Book of Lists Launch Party earlier this month.

In 2015, the University of Nevada, Reno awarded more than 4,000 degrees and this year they anticipate to award closer to 5,000 degrees, President Johnson said at the event.

Classes at UNR for the spring 2016 semester start Tuesday, January 19.


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