Community College Advanced Manufacturing Career Pathways


Achieving the Dream’s Community College Advanced Manufacturing Career Pathways Initiative, funded by the Arconic Foundation, seeks to close skills gaps and increase students’ employment in advanced manufacturing careers. The three participating colleges, Muskegon Community College (MI), Cuyahoga Community College (OH), and Westmoreland County Community College (PA), are building a talent pipeline into their local economies by collaborating with various stakeholders including employers, local workforce boards, community-based organizations, and industry associations. In particular, the initiative seeks to harness the recruitment potential and resources of the public workforce system.  In November 2016, the colleges convened regional manufacturing employers and key stakeholders to discuss strategies to improve industry-college collaboration to strengthen the manufacturing workforce pipeline.    


The results of convenings with regional manufacturing employers and key stakeholders in fall 2016 provided essential information about changes that can strengthen the communities’ manufacturing workforce pipelines. At each convening, attendees discussed the current state of advanced manufacturing education and training in the region, identified areas of weakness and challenges to overcome, and determined priorities for the colleges and their manufacturing partners. The colleges and their partners have developed and are now executing change-focused work plans that address skills gaps and prepare more individuals to take advantage of manufacturing career opportunities.

Each college identified priorities that respond to unique local talent needs. They are now moving forward with support from ATD in partnership with the Arconic Foundation.

Muskegon Community College (MCC)

Muskegon Community College is developing a youth pipeline to advanced manufacturing careers through strong marketing and closer connections with local K-12 public school systems. MCC is planning to host a Youth Open House for junior and senior high school students at MCC’s new Downtown Center in fall 2017. The goal is to have 200 students attend the event, which will include hands-on demonstrations of advanced manufacturing careers. MCC will collaborate with employers to  demonstrate how programs of study will lead into career pathways and employment. 

The college is also focusing on soft skills and work-readiness in its programs. MCC is working to increase  the number of manufacturing internships and include soft skills/work preparation competencies through a new intern orientation process.

Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C)

Cuyahoga Community College is addressing the need to bring together all of the strategies used in the initiative. For example, the college is retaining a workforce development specialist to focus on integrating soft skills, work-readiness, and professionalism training into workforce classrooms.

In addition, Tri-C is raising employers’ awareness about efforts sponsored by Cuyahoga County to increase job-readiness for entry-level employment in the advanced manufacturing sector. The college is communicating more strategically with the advanced manufacturing community, streamlining the process of identifying organizations, including the Ohio Manufacturing Association, to provide best practices and initiate collaboration partnerships, and offering information on opportunities to connect with students through career fairs and internship programs.

Tri-C is also prioritizing soft skills and closing workforce development gaps that exist between employer needs and workforce preparation. Tri-C is developing and integrating a curriculum-based, manufacturing-specific, soft skill module to address these areas for improvement. Throughout this process Tri-C will continue the role of liaison as it organizes additional convenings of employers and community stakeholders to strengthen relationships and share information.

Westmoreland County Community College (WCCC)

Westmoreland County Community College is focusing on measuring its improvements in advanced manufacturing career pathways using a series of metrics beginning with a baseline of zero. First, WCCC is increasing the availability of student internships at advanced manufacturing companies and creating a metric to document the number of students placed in internships. WCCC is building on its current partnerships that include the Westmoreland County Forum for Workforce Development, the Allegheny Conference’s recent Inflection Point Workforce Study, the Arconic/America Makes 3-D and Additive Manufacturing Project, the Tri-State Summit, and BOTS IQ.

In addition, WCCC is recruiting qualified instructors by tapping into current employer personnel and/or retirees to create better advanced manufacturing curricula and classroom experiences. Concurrently, WCCC is creating a metric to document the number of employees and retirees engaged in the initiative.

Like the other colleges participating in the initiative, WCCC is building a talent pipeline for regional advanced manufacturing employers. The college is creating a metric to document the increased number of multi-tasked employees, as well as the increase in the number of women in advanced manufacturing programs.


ATD has released the first in a series of publications related to its Advanced Manufacturing Intiative. Building Sustainable and Strategic Partnerships with Business and Industry: A Step-by-Step Guide for Community Colleges highlights promising practices and ideas emerging from the college convenings around effective employer engagement and how to move from engagement conversations to expectations of employers assisting with tasks for goal attainment.

The next two publications in the series will be released in early 2018: 

  1. Career Pathways in Advanced Manufacturing – Assist colleges and employers solidify career pathways and competencies for advanced manufacturing and skills alignment.
  2. Resource Leveraging Guide – Develop resources around best practices in leveraging public training dollars (particularly WIOA) and working with local WIBS and employers to recruit individuals into these advanced manufacturing training opportunities collected and documented.

Advanced Manufacturing Labor Market Analysis - ATD has also partnered with Burning Glass to conduct a labor market analysis of the advanced manufacturing industry in the three regional geographical areas of our participating colleges. Burning Glass will produce and deliver a customized research report and slide deck.


There are no updates related to this initiative.


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