STEM Education Essential for Solving the Talent Shortage
According to research by ManpowerGroup, for the fourth year in a row, skilled trades rank as the most difficult jobs to fill in the United States. The root cause is the lack of skilled engineers, machinists, electricians, mechanics, and technicians available in today’s workforce.
These professions requiring skilled talent are emerging at a faster rate than they can be filled. For those pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), this presents a world of opportunity. Constantly changing technologies demand new skills, resulting in the creation of new jobs. Meanwhile, a majority of skilled workers in the U.S. are either approaching or exceeding age 50, indicating an even greater demand for these jobs in the future.
What is the solution? Effective STEM education!
As shown in the Manpower report, STEM education provides the best opportunity to close the skills gap. Whether through 4-year degrees, two-year career programs or shorter certificate programs, STEM education equips students with the skills that lead to high-demand, high-salaried, meaningful jobs. Students who pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are creating better potential and more security for their futures, as well as for the futures of their respective economies.
Adirondack Community College, part of State University of New York (SUNY), and WSWHE BOCES (Washington-Saratoga- Warren-Hamilton-Essex Board of Cooperative Educational Services) have teamed up in an innovative program to prepare students to be career- and college-ready.
A robust college experience for high school students
The Early College High School Program, part of a public-private partnership, takes a new approach to dual-enrollment. Instead of offering college-credit programs at their own high school campus, students are bussed to SUNY Adirondack’s college campus for a half-day of courses co-taught by SUNY professors and the WSWHE BOCES high school CTE instructor.
This first-in-the-nation strategy delivers a robust college experience for high school students, with the goal of bolstering their skills and credentials upon graduation. Available starting in the junior year for students who pass the placement exam, participants can earn 7 credits each semester, up to 24 college credits by the end of the 2-year program.
Multiple pathways to success
The program provides multiple pathways to success for students. For students seeking direct-to-workforce employment, four industry certifications are available. The dual-enrollment credits also seamlessly integrate into Adirondack’s Electrical Technology Associates degree program. Credits also transfer to any 2- or 4-year degree program.
Project-based learning prepares students for industry certification
Project-based learning is the backbone of this program, featuring hands-on activities with industrial-level manufacturing equipment. Intelitek, a global developer of career and technology training systems specializing in advanced manufacturing, provided curriculum for the program. Students can access online curriculum through an e-learning platform that guides them through projects using the classroom hardware in topics like CAD, precision measurement, mechanical systems and electrical systems.
“Intelitek courses provide excellent exam prep for the MSSC assessments”
The relevant curriculum helps connect students to relevant skills needed in the workforce, thus helping to meet the program’s goal to connect the skills taught in the classroom with the needs of employers. To validate these skills, students also have the opportunity to earn industry certifications throughout the course. At the end of semester 1, students can take the MSSC Safety assessment; semester 2 leads to the Quality Practices & Measurement certification; Semester 3 -Manufacturing Processes & Production; and semester 4 prepares students for the Maintenance Awareness assessment.
“The Intelitek courses provide excellent exam prep for the MSSC assessments.” says Gage Simpson, Career and Technology Instructor for the WSHWE BOCES. In order to teach the courses, Simpson needed to pass the same assessments.
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher praised Early College High School’s “innovative program that connects high school, college and the world of work, all aligned through a single challenging curriculum that keeps students focused, engaged and excited.” Such a collaboration between industry and education can serve as a model for success.