North Dakota Community Colleges Respond to Evolving Workforce Needs
BISMARCK, N.D. - North Dakota's community colleges are responding to changes in North Dakota's economy and evolving workforce needs in growth areas ranging from energy education to building trades to sustainable vegetable production.
The five public community colleges also are reaching out to high school students and adults seeking new careers by showcasing technical careers, many of which lead to high-paying jobs.
"North Dakota's career and technical programs are evolving with the times and with demand from business and industry in North Dakota," said Bill Goetz, chancellor of the North Dakota University System. "The colleges have many partnerships with businesses across the state. These relationships help provide community college graduates many options to stay and work in North Dakota."
Several of the colleges have targeted their outreach efforts in February as part of national Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month. According to the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) (www.acteonline.org), nearly 16 million students are taking career and technical courses nationwide.
New and innovative programs and activities at North Dakota's five community colleges include:
Bismarck State College With placement rates of 97 percent for students in technical programs, BSC is developing three new programs, two that will support the workforce needs of the oil and gas industry:
Petroleum Engineering Technology will provide students a broad background in geology, geophysics, drilling and related topics.
Petroleum Production Technology builds on the curriculum of BSC's Process Plant Technology program. It will be offered online and emphasizes production operations, safety and environmental aspects of the petroleum industry.
Sustainable Construction Technology will provide students with a broad background in the green construction industry. It will complement the Residential Carpentry and HVAC programs in place at BSC.
Dakota College at Bottineau
In response to the growing organic and specialty vegetable industry, DCB is launching a Sustainable Vegetable Production Program in January 2012. This program will extend the college's programming in the natural resources. An associate's degree and a one-year certificate will be offered; the program will prepare students for opportunities as either a business owner or professional in the industry.
DCB is reviewing its Natural Resource Management and Laboratory and Field Technology programs to make them a fit for the oil exploration and drilling anticipated in the Bottineau County region. The programs focus on field testing of water, soil and air to determine concentrations and sources of contaminants.
Lake Region College
Focused on outreach and community awareness, LRSC partnered with the Lake Area Career and Technology Center to showcase different technical programs at Devils Lake High School every day during the week of Feb. 7 - 11, 2011. Other high schools in the area were invited to attend the showcases as well. Each day offered a different focus for students: business, IT and marketing; culinary arts and child and family services; medical and electronics; and auto, construction and welding career options.
Devils Lake Mayor Dick Johnson declared February CTE Month in the city. Additional outreach events took place during the college-sponsored tailgate parties at the Lake Region Royals games on Feb. 23, 2011, and the Devils Lake High School Firebirds games on Feb. 18, 2011.
North Dakota State College of Science Grants received from North Dakota Career and Technical Education and Southeast Career Resource Network allowed NDSCS to present the first Steer Your Career outreach effort at Oakes (N.D.) High School
A collaborative effort between secondary and post-secondary education, Steer Your Career addressed the need for skilled workers in high-demand technical careers. Students received a first-hand look at the type of education and training needed for specific professions.
The day portion of the event included hands-on demonstrations for Oakes students. In the evening, NDSCS academic departments conducted two interactive career sessions for students and parents from around the region. Area businesses were invited to discuss employment trends and industry needs.
Williston State College
With financial assistance from the WSC Foundation, WSC's Residential Carpentry Program purchased a run-down house in west Williston to use as a hands-on project for the class. The class will remodel the existing structure and build an addition, giving students experience in new construction. Work is scheduled to begin in June.
WSC's Diesel Technology program received ASE Master Certification from the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation, Inc., the highest level of achievement recognized by the National Institute for Automotive Excellence. WSC's program was evaluated according to strict standards set by the automotive industry. Many apply, but few programs receive the certification.