Graduating to Real Life

Posted By: Krista Maurer on June 29, 2016

As “Pomp and Circumstance” rings out across the nation, Career and Technical Education (CTE) students — and parents — are hoping high school skills translate to jobs.

One program that is removing the guesswork is the West Virginia Department of Education’s Simulated Workplace. Students from the program are heading into manufacturing careers with strong technical skills and real-life work experience.

One of the schools piloting the program is United Technical College (UTC) in Clarksburg, West Virginia.

“The UTC Simulated Workplace, which students named Precision Machining Company, operates like a machine shop and puts the students in charge,” said Kevin “Doug” Sands, Machine Tool Technology Instructor, UTC. “They rotate through job roles such as foreman, project manager, and tool room attendant.”

The two-year CTE program is open to high school juniors and seniors from eight local high schools, covering three counties. Students learn the skills necessary to operate a variety of machining equipment, such as Lathe, Mill, Grinder, Drill Press, CNC Turning Center and CNC Machining Center.

Just as important, they learn softer skills such as punctuality and cooperation.

The program integrates workplace environmental protocols that align with West Virginia workforce requirements, including random drug testing, professionalism, attendance and safety. State grants cover expenses such as time clocks, uniforms and drug testing.

At the end of the two-year program, students have a portfolio to show to potential employers, documenting learning, credentials earned and projects completed. This includes at least 60 certificates from Tooling U-SME courses.

“This goes a long way with business and industry,” Sands said.

UTC has received other accolades including earning a Schools of Excellence Award (2011-2012). Most importantly, the school’s collaborative approach helps ensure students are employable at the end of the program, meeting industry expectations.

“With Simulated Workplace, we see that students are more accountable and engaged, and manufacturers like the end product,” Sands said.

With nearly 3.5 million manufacturing jobs likely needing to be filled over the next decade, that’s great news for employers. And, it’s music to parents’ ears as their new graduates land their first official jobs.

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

Tags: "Career and Technical Education", CTE, curriculum, "Kevin “Doug” Sands", machining, "Precision Machining Company", "Simulated Workplace", "Tooling U-SME", "United Technical College", "West Virginia Department of Education’s Simulated Workplace"