Carson High School students will soon register for next year’s classes and will now have a new choice in the schedule as CHS’s Career and Technical Education program will begin offering a new manufacturing technologies course of study in the 2016-2017 school year.
“Carson High school is starting a manufacturing program in response to the prediction of increased jobs at all levels of career ladders in high skill, high wage jobs where our students will have the opportunity to earn numerous college credits through a partnership with Western Nevada College,” Michele Lewis, Carson City School District CTE program administrator, said. “We are thrilled with the opportunity to collaborate with WNC’s Jump Start College program in advanced manufacturing and for students to be able to earn nationally recognized certifications.”
The manufacturing sequence begins with Manufacturing Technologies 1 in the student’s freshman year, with classes at the high school throughout his or her sophomore and junior years. The student’s senior year is spent at Western Nevada College. Students already in their senior year can consider joining the Jump Start College Automated Industrial Systems courses at WNC.
CHS students who enroll in the manufacturing technologies program will have the opportunity to move towards a national manufacturing technician certificate, a two-year degree and perhaps a four-year degree in advanced manufacturing. Lewis said state educational standards were put together last year to meet the forecasted jobs coming and to ensure Nevada has a talented and skilled workforce for what’s coming in the next 10-15 years.
”The State Department of Education has created a seamless curriculum between the 9th and 14th grades in partnership with the Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s Learn and Earn Advance Pathway, or LEAP, program along with input from local manufacturers,” Lewis said.
Lewis said according to Dream It Do It, Nevada, the non-profit arm of the National Association of Manufacturers which was created to attract workers to fill the approximately 600,000 open manufacturing jobs in the U.S., more than 50,000 new jobs will be created in Nevada over the next five years. The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada recently announced approximately 11 new companies will be relocating into this region and 250,000 people will be relocating to northern Nevada as a result of the new jobs. EDAWN officials also predicted the majority of those jobs, between 55 and 68 percent, would be in advanced manufacturing, which translates into increased technical jobs.
“This suggests that there will be employment opportunities for young graduates requiring certification in fields as diverse as robotics, robotics maintenance, programming, cyber security, chemistry, automation, automated systems programming and maintenance, machining, CNC operations and programming,” Lewis said. “A technically proficient, upgraded workforce is needed for the advanced manufacturing climate locating in northern Nevada. Carson City School District is ready to meet this challenge.”
Developing state standards
Karsten Heise, director of technology commercialization for GOED, said the program is based on German education programs that are designed to create standardized skill levels the Governor observed during a European trade mission last year.
“We were looking at global best practices to adopt,” Heise said. “With the German-based program, from very early on at the high school level, students can train in manufacturing. At different stages of their training, they can earn respected, recognized and transferrable credentials.”
Heise said the state standards define a fully integrated pathway for advanced manufacturing from high school through the university level. The program is designed to have on ramps and off ramps so students can gain enough skills to get an entry level position directly out of high school and continue his or her education through WNC or Truckee Meadows Community College and eventually onto the University of Nevada, Reno’s engineering program if they choose at various times throughout their professional careers.
“Many students work for a few years right out of high school rather than go directly to university,” he said. “If you start a student at age 15 or 16 in vocational training to qualify for certification demonstrating certain standards, each employer will know what their skill level is. The time a student spends in vocational training will be honored at that higher level no matter when they get there.”
Georgia White, director of career and technical programs at WNC, said the collaboration between the local manufacturing community, Carson High School, WNC and the Governor’s Office is an exciting way for students to learn and earn. The idea, she said, is to create a passport of sorts, in which each student completing a level or skill set would receive a performance report at that level.
“As a group we are identifying common skill sets, knowledge bases, and expectations for graduates of secondary and post-secondary programs,” she said. “Potential employers would know that a prospective employee would possess the skills and knowledge associated with that level.”
White said manufacturing offers a variety of job and career opportunities, from printing circuit boards to high altitude balloons to fasteners for stealth jets, and several area manufacturers host tours for students and parents to explore today’s manufacturing.
“Seeing the variety and cleanliness of today’s manufacturing is often enough to open the mind gap to see this pathway as a viable career option,” White said. “Many manufacturers in northern Nevada offer pathways for advancement. The associated increase in salary provides the opportunity for not only a living wage but significant movement upward in the organization.”
Both Carson High School and WNC are developing internship and apprenticeship opportunities with employers. High school students would start by job shadowing for a few hours in their sophomore and junior years before moving into a larger internship program during their senior year. WNC student outcomes are associated with the internships along with a forum for feedback regarding student performance, according to White.
Heise said having the input from the manufacturing community was critical in developing the curriculum, citing the effect large manufacturers like Tesla moving into the area would have on local small and mid-size manufacturers.
“The local manufacturing community was really fragmented until Tesla arrived,” he said. “We didn’t have large manufacturing within in the region, but we had highly advanced smaller and midsized manufacturers who are looking for employees all the time.”
Smaller manufacturers are pressured to find the skilled workforce they need, Heise said. With large companies moving in with great demand for highly skilled jobs, the lack of trained, skilled workers gets even worse for smaller companies, especially when Tesla is up and running.
“Tesla will bring companies here for their supply chain,” he said. “We have to cater to that demand as well as making sure our existing manufacturing base is not neglected.”