Gateway Releases Comprehensive Report on Manufacturing Education

In observance of National Manufacturing Month, Gateway Community and Technical College today released a comprehensive report to the community on the manufacturing climate in the region and the colleges efforts toward preparing workers for advanced manufacturing jobs.

Our report affirms the need to increase the pool of qualified talent for advanced manufacturing as the single most important challenge facing the industry and its training partners, said Ed Hughes, Gateway president/CEO.

The analysis of the impact of Gateways education and training programs over the past four years since the opening of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing at the colleges Boone Campus revealed that Gateway has served 5,360 individuals through its traditional credit programs, high school dual credit programs and customized skill and performance training. Annually, the college serves over 1,100 individuals in manufacturing.

The reports release comes on the heels of Tuesdays announcement by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) that Gateway is one of only 24 colleges and universities nationwide to receive a $3.3 million First in the World Program grant from the DOE Office of Postsecondary Education. The grant will focus on increasing access to the college and student persistence while reducing time to credential completion for students.

Gateways report analyzes data from a wide variety of respected national and regional sources. Among them are the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Kentucky Department for Workforce Development Office of Employment and Training, Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services, and the 2020 Jobs Outlook Report prepared by the Strive Partnership, Partners for a Competitive Workforce, Vision 2015 and Agenda 360, as well as other specialized regional reports such as the Northern Kentucky Industrial Partnership Manufacturing Skill Pipeline Business Plan.

Data from these sources are combined with Gateway statistics on enrollment, retention and completion. The result is a comprehensive analysis that reflects the colleges role in improving the advanced manufacturing talent highway.

Among the findings:

  • The manufacturing sector holds 10.6 percent of all jobs in the Cincinnati Metropolitan Statistical Area, compared to a national share of 8 percent (US Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • In the Northern Kentucky Area Development District, 23,388 people are employed in 243 manufacturing facilities and represent 10 percent of the states manufacturing employment (Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development).
  • Boone County alone accounts for 48 percent of Northern Kentucky manufacturing facilities and 57 percent of employment (Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development).
  • Based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics data, total projected job openings in a wide variety of job categories that are related to Gateways seven manufacturing-related training disciplines number 442 per year between now and 2020.
  • Nearly half of projected openings are at the entry level and require a high school diploma and six months postsecondary education for which a certificate is needed.

Meeting the needs of regional manufacturing employers is often referred to as the talent pipeline, which implies a closed system with a single starting point and ending point, Hughes said. In fact, the pipeline is actually more of a highway with multiple entry and exit ramps that individuals choose to meet or advance their personal career goals. Gateway serves the needs of students and employers through credit-based technical programs and customized training.

The report describes the progress Gateway has made in preparing more individuals with skills that have been identified by industry partners. The college and its industry partners have identified three primary groups for training: recent high school graduates, older adults, and current workers. Within those categories, the college has focused recruitment efforts on special populations including veterans, women, seniors, incumbent workers and under-employed, unemployed and displaced workers.

From 2004 through 2014 enrollment in Gateways traditional-credit manufacturing programs increased by 190 percent in fall semesters, from 149 students in fall 2004 to 432 in fall 2013. (Fall 2014 enrollment data will not be available before November.) Enrollment for the same periods during spring semesters grew by 215 percent, from 136 students in spring 2005 to 429 in spring 2014.

Manufacturing enrollment grew most quickly from fall 2006 through fall 2010 and slowed more recently due in part to a decrease in the regional unemployment rate.
The unemployment rate for the Cincinnati Metropolitan Statistical Area has declined from 8.6 percent in 2011 to 5.8 percent in 2014, the lowest rate since 2008.

Enrollment in community colleges nationwide typically grows during slow economic periods and declines as the economy strengthens, Hughes said. Even so, the colleges credit-based education and training options have served more than 1,100 individuals per year in each of the past four years. In addition, an average of the past three fall semesters shows that 96 percent of students were retained in their manufacturing courses, and 95 percent of those retained successfully passed their courses.

The report also showed that for the 10-year period beginning in 2004-2005, the total number of manufacturing-related credentials awarded has increased 394 percent, and the total number of individual graduates has grown 95 percent. Overall since 2004, Gateway has awarded 740 certificates, 144 technical diplomas and 251 associate degrees in advanced manufacturing disciplines, for a total of 1, 135 credentials.

Certificates account for 65 percent of total credentials awarded because they are designed to provide specific training of value to employers and are stackable so students can build on them to earn additional certificates, a diploma or an associates degree, Hughes explained. During the 10-year period, the annual number of certificates awarded increased by 485 percent, diplomas by 267 percent and associate degrees by 223 percent.

In addition to credit-based education, the colleges Workforce Solutions Division offers customized training in manufacturing as requested by employers based upon their demand cycle. Since 2010, 2,839 individuals have completed credit-based, customized training courses and 583 have completed training courses on a non-credit basis.

The Workforce Solutions Division also provides employers with access to training funds offered through the KCTCS-TRAINS (formerly KY WINS) program. Since 2010, Gateway has provided training to 38 manufacturing companies through KCTCS-TRAINS and provided access to $2,437,100 to offset employer costs.

Gateway collaborates with local manufacturers to offer apprenticeship training programs. The number of apprentices participating in these combination academic and on-the-job training opportunities increased 226 percent, from 31 in 2011-2012 to 101 in the current academic year (2014-2015).

Finally, the report looks at other obstacles facing the manufacturing community, including negative public perceptions and a low general awareness of the advantages of a manufacturing career. The study recommends improved coordination of regional resources to overcome these hurdles and suggests the formation of a formal science, engineering, math and advanced technology program for 11th and 12th grade students at Gateways Boone Campus as a means to involve up to 250 secondary students in manufacturing careers while still in high school.

Although there is still much work to do to widen the manufacturing talent highway, we have made significant progress thanks in large part to the collaboration and support of our partners in the industry, Hughes said. They have provided guidance and advice by serving on program advisory committees. They have participated in our STEM Day recruiting outreach to secondary school students. They have offered apprenticeship opportunities. They have hired our graduates, donated equipment, time and their own talents to enhance our students classroom experiences.

Manufacturing is the engine that makes America run. As National Manufacturing Month kicks off, Gateway is pleased to be part of the process, Hughes said.