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CCRI awarded $2.5M federal grant to fund advanced manufacturing pathways
June 9, 2014
The Community College of Rhode Island announced today it has received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration to create new pathways and opportunities in advanced manufacturing, an industry that is projected to grow in the Ocean State over the next 10 years.
The grant announcement was made this morning at CCRI's Knight Campus in Warwick. U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Eva-Marie Mancuso, chairwoman of the Rhode Island Board of Education, spoke about the program and what it means to the future of manufacturing in Rhode Island.
The Accelerated Pathways in Advanced Manufacturing, or APAM, program emphasizes a "learn and earn" model consisting of stackable and latticed credentials that provide opportunities for adult learners to acquire new knowledge and skills that are linked with industry needs. These blocks of new learning are structured to lead to both associate and bachelor's degrees.
For instance, a student enrolling would determine a pathway with the assistance of a career counselor or adult learning specialist, be evaluated for the potential of receiving credit for prior learning and enroll in a Poised for Success course, which includes a review of soft skills needed for the 21st century workforce. A Manufacturing Boot Camp introduces the student to key concepts in the industry. From there, he or she could move on to one or more of four certificate programs at CCRI, then to the college's associate degree in Engineering Systems Technology and a baccalaureate degree at a four-year institution, increasing his or her salary at each step.
"We are responding to a need to train workers for the manufacturing industry's modern incarnation, computer numerical controlled operations, in which components are designed and machines are controlled via computers rather than manual operations," said CCRI President Ray Di Pasquale. "Demand for workers in this field is expected to be high over the next several years, and we are working to meet the industry need."
According to labor market information from the R.I. Department of Labor and Training, employers will need to fill more than 10,000 manufacturing positions between 2010 and 2020. Wages associated with these hires are significant to the Rhode Island economy, with two of the top three occupations – machinists and front-line supervisors of production and operating workers – projecting the highest number of openings paying median wages of more than $20 per hour.
The grant funds to create the APAM program are made possible through the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Act (TAACCCT), which provides community colleges with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less, are suited for workers who are eligible for training under the TAA for Workers program and prepare program participants for employment in high-wage, high-skill occupations.
CCRI's APAM project's educational design has paid particular attention to the needs of adult learners whose busy lives require learning opportunities that are responsive to their needs. Students will find a portal to link their current skills and interest with available opportunities to find the career path that is the best fit for them. They will have the opportunity to receive college credit for their prior learning and receive support services offering more efficient pathways to fill in skills gaps. New options for online, customized interventions will be created to support an accelerated pathway to degree completion.
"We are mindful that adult learners have many demands on their time – work and family obligations chief among them – and that they want to complete their education to move into their field of choice quickly," said Vice President for Academic Affairs Greg Lamontagne. "We have structured this program to build in strategies for their success at every level."
The APAM program at CCRI was informed by collaborative discussions with statewide organizations, including the Governor's Workforce Board, the Department of Labor and Training, the Office of Higher Education, Rhode Island Manufacturing Association and Polaris MEP, formerly known as Rhode Island Manufacturing Extension.
CCRI's APAM program is an equal opportunity program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities.
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