Chicago is serious about closing the ever-growing manufacturing skills gap. The city has announced its plan to spend $75 million of its hard-earned money on a state-of-the-art manufacturing training facility. The 105,000 square-foot facility will be built on the campus grounds of Richard J. Daley College, a two-year college located on the south-side of Chicago. City officials estimate that the training facility will be completed in 2018. Once finished, the facility will allow the college to accommodate 38,000 more students per year. However, enhancing student attendance at the college is not the city’s main goal. Building the center is part of Chicago’s much larger College to Careers (C2C) initiative, which aims at helping students attain a job in the ever-evolving and highly-technical field of manufacturing.
More specifically, the C2C initiative is meant “to ensure [that] Chicagoans are prepared for careers in growing fields and are able to seize the tens of thousands of new job openings over the next decade,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. According to Emanuel, the city expects at least 14,000 new manufacturing jobs to become available within the next ten years. As a result, the city is doing everything it can to help its workforce develop the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to fill those future positions. Or, to put it more bluntly, Mayor Emanuel wants Chicago’s very own citizens to reap the opportunities growing in their own backyard. “With a new state-of-the-art manufacturing center at Daley College and other investments to strengthen our city colleges, we will unlock thousands of opportunities each year for our students to seize the jobs that are being created right here,” stated Mayor Emanuel.
To help them do just that, C2C has partnered with industry leaders in order to design training facilities that are equipped to prepare students for careers in manufacturing. The new training facility at Richard J. Daley College is designed to offer students hands-on training with advanced equipment under the guidance of qualified professionals. The facility is also designed to function as a site for local manufacturing. Permitting local companies to work out of the facility will allow students to learn manufacturing practices through real-world experiences and critical thinking. Forming such local partnerships will also expose students to local industry leaders, thus enhancing those students’ chances of attaining a career with those companies upon graduation.
Although the facility is not yet completed, there are already 144 students enrolled in the 2015 C2C manufacturing program. Initiated in 2011, the C2C program has successfully trained hundreds of students in high demand fields, such as welding and pipe-fitting. As program enrollment continues to grow, the Mayor is certain that the C2C initiative will expand its reach to include high schools and even more colleges.
Chicago’s C2C initiative could not have come at a better time. The ever-growing skills gap threatens to leave over a half-a million manufacturing jobs in the United States unfilled. For the citizens of Chicago, the new manufacturing training facility is a beacon of hope. For Americans who don’t live in Chicago, other opportunities must be sought out to ensure that the necessary knowledge and skill sets are developed. To assist students in this endeavor, AWS has launched the first Online Educational Library geared specifically to the needs of 21st century welding students and educators. The Library is a voluminous collection of online courses that provide students with over 75 hours of learning. The educational content covers the core skills required to meet the industry’s high standards. With innovative technology and 24/7 access from any device, the AWS Online Educational Library is allowing students to learn anytime and from anywhere. When thousands of manufacturing jobs become available in your town, will you have the required skill set to reap the opportunities?
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