Trending: Flexible Learning

Posted By: Krista Maurer on January 12, 2016



After reading all the 2016 trend lists featuring items like virtual reality devices, raw milk cheese, and fringe, I started thinking about trends in manufacturing training. I dub 2016 the year of Flexible Learning. Here’s why:

Customizable and flexible programs are an excellent model for schools across the country that are looking for better ways to create programs that develop the skilled labor local manufacturers need.

For these programs, students are not required to start at the beginning of a semester, which helps workers more quickly reach the shop floor.

Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, Mich., takes a flexible, non-traditional approach using blended learning as a way to help manufacturers find and keep workers.  
“More often we are training people for job skills rather than a certificate or degree,” said Thomas Longman, Interim Director, Regional Manufacturing Technology Center (RMTC), Kellogg Community College. “As the baby boomers are starting to retire, companies know there is a real problem and are starting to rebuild their pipelines through training and apprenticeship programs.”

Longman, who has been with RMTC for nearly 25 years, said their flexible, modular, open-entry/open-exit training programs are designed to meet the employee training needs of area business and industry.

“They [students] can take classes as needed — even walk in that day and start. At any time we might have five to 20 students in the shop all working on something different,” he said. “It’s like a buffet of training.”

RMTC’s program incorporates competency-based modules, individualized instruction, and self-paced learning through online courses by Tooling U-SME.

Located in the center of an industrial park, RMTC works closely with employers to develop curriculum. Longman estimates up to 70 percent of students are already working for manufacturers, many of which pay for the cost of training.

This provides plenty of opportunity for those willing to develop the skills needed to fill good, well-paying jobs within companies that often pay the cost of training and development, leaving students with little to no debt.

“Lives are better because of the training and the effort that students put into their education,” said Longman. “Employees are able to earn a better wage, buy a nicer home and have better things for their family.”

Cheers to that!

-- Krista Maurer, Government & Education Group, Tooling U-SME

Tags: "Blended Learning", competency, "Flexible Learning", "Kellogg Community College", "Regional Manufacturing Technology Center", Trends