Sinclair Community College: Workforce Development, Driving Success in the New Economy
According to the International Technology and Innovation Foundation, the "New Economy" refers to the changes that have occurred over the past two decades, transforming the U.S. into a global, entrepreneurial, and knowledge-based economy. This new economy is rooted in information technology and requires continuing education.
In the past, economic development focused on attracting new businesses with financial incentives. Companies now require that a well-trained, educated workforce is readily available when making a decision to relocate or stay in a region.
Sinclair Community College Partners to Develop Innovative Use of Stimulus Dollars
"Critical to our region's economic development success in the new economy is the need for a partnership approach to workforce development," stated Deb Norris, Vice President for Workforce Development & Corporate Services (WFD&CS) at Sinclair Community College.
Sinclair's WFD&CS, in partnership with the Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services (MCDJFS), has launched two new strategic training programs for displaced workers through funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These programs, the Defense Acquisition Academy and Composite Technician Training, will bridge the gaps in skills and workforce training to help displaced workers obtain jobs in the Dayton, Ohio region.
Defense Acquisition Academy
Sinclair's WFD&CS division has enrolled trainees for Contracting and Acquisition Logistics training through its new Defense Acquisition Academy. The training is providing participants with what they need to be successful in the contracting and acquisition fields. There is no cost to qualified displaced or unemployed participants during the pilot phase of the program.
"Certified acquisition personnel are not only highly sought after by the Department of Defense, but are also critical in non-defense agencies including the U.S. Department of Energy, Homeland Security, U.S. and Ohio Department of Transportation to name a few," said Heath MacAlpine, assistant director, MCDJFS. "We also have an increase in civilian logistics. We believe that people who complete this training will have a strong advantage in the competition for these jobs."
Ohio has the nation's sixth largest civilian logistics workforce supporting the military. After years of unprecedented growth in contract spending and no growth in in-house staffing, the Defense Department (DoD) plans to increase its acquisition workforce by 15 percent. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has announced plans to hire 20,000 new acquisition professionals by 2015. It's estimated that 50 percent of the U.S. DoD's acquisition and logistics workforce will be eligible for retirement within the next 10 years.
"This training program is being developed as a workforce initiative that will offer qualified displaced and unemployed workers training that will enable them to secure new employment in the acquisition field, and assist the region in meeting a critical workforce need by supporting the state's largest employer, Wright Patterson Air Force Base," said Norris.
Preference for the pilot program was given to applicants who are displaced and have degrees and experience in complementary subject areas including business, cost estimating, finance, project management, technology, contract management, transportation, distribution, and warehousing. These backgrounds, when combined with acquisition knowledge, fit some of the most critical needs of WPAFB.
Composites Technician Training
In the second program, three partners, Sinclair's WFD&CS, MCDJFS, and the National Composite Center, are collaborating to offer a free, pilot Composites Technician Training Program to meet the growing needs of the Dayton region's composites industry.
Composite materials are engineered materials made from two or more materials, resulting in significantly superior overall strength. Ohio is the leader in composites manufacturing with over 10 percent of manufacturing jobs nationwide. There are no known short-term composites training programs in the nation.
"This training opportunity capitalizes on Ohio's prominence in the composite industry to give dislocated employees a unique, substantive way to further their skills and add value not only to themselves but to the region," said MacAlpine.
The pilot training has two levels. Trainees must successfully complete Level I of the program in order to advance to Level II. The training is being conducted at the National Composite Center, a state-of-the-art composite process development facility located in Kettering, Ohio. Classes are limited to 50 qualified applicants per training session.
"We are partnering to institute a workforce retraining program aimed at providing economically disadvantaged and dislocated workers interested in manufacturing jobs with valuable training," said Donna Hoying, manager, Advanced Engineering and Manufacturing Solutions, in the WFD&CS group at Sinclair. "The program is designed to be highly practical, with a greater emphasis on shop floor training as opposed to classroom instruction. In fact, for Level II of the training, workers are receiving over half of their on-the-job training at local composite manufacturers."
To qualify for the pilot training, students had to be dislocated workers or have a family income that does not exceed 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and meet WIA (Workforce Investment Act) eligibility requirements. Written assessments and drug screening were required at no charge to applicants. Selected participants must provide their own transportation to classes and on-the-job training.
"A trainee graduating from the program will be qualified to work in a composites manufacturing environment. The training program is designed to help offset the on-the-job training that potential employers now must provide to their entering workforce," said Lisa Novelli, president, National Composite Center. "This effort will be an incentive to employers to bring new composites manufacturing jobs to the local area, resulting in overall economic development."
Ohio is one of the nation's industrial leaders, ranking third in manufacturing employment nationwide and first in composites manufacturing jobs. According to the American Composites Manufacturers Association, there are over 100 manufacturers of composite products in Ohio, with annual revenue of over $1.4 billion, providing nearly 11,000 jobs. Strong growth in this industry is expected, with renewed interest in advanced technologies including wind energy, high efficiency transportation, and aerospace.
Providing training to over 200 displaced workers with these two new programs is just a first step. Sinclair will use these programs to develop employee skills to meet employer demand. Identifying and building additional training programs will benefit from the use of this successful, demand-driven model.