Volume 23, No. 2, 2nd Quarter, 2022
From the Director

Craig McAtee, NCATC CEO and Executive Director
June 2022

NCATC Friends and Colleagues,

Employer Engagement/Strategic Partnerships: The Most Important Element for Industry and Education in the 21st Century

Nearly 35 years ago the National Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers (NCATC) was formed by the Center for Occupational Research and Development (CORD), and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), with the employer engagement of two prominent technology organizations and nine community colleges. 

The NCATC bylaws were written with advanced technology education and workforce development from the nation’s community and technical colleges in mind with one permanent Board director seat from CORD.

Fast forward over the three and a half decades to today and NCATC has nearly 170 community and technical college members AND over 45 industry Strategic Partners. Now that is true employer-engagement!

NCATC’s Board structure and bylaws have changed each decade to keep current with the needs of our collective membership network – always being anchored in the original mission of providing advanced technical expertise coupled with real-world, industry-led experiential learning for all students in our workforce development-focused education members’ communities.

In 2018 the Board realized another gap/opportunity to strengthen the NCATC leadership structure by adding two industry members/Strategic Partners to the thirteen-member Board of Directors, making it a fifteen-member Board. Once this idea had been formalized and approved by NCATC members, the Board took nominations from the Strategic Partners and our first two industry directors were elected to the NCATC Board in July 2019.

We agreed that each Strategic Partner (SP) director would serve a two-year term that would be “staggered” so that every year NCATC would only replace one SP director. This logic allows for a consistent overlap and automatic mentoring of the newest SP director by the last SP director. To date it has been very successful and blends well with the education-based directors – who all serve a four-year term.

To get this pattern started, NCATC needed to ask one of the initial two SP directors to serve a three-year term – one year longer than all other SP directors would serve. That request was met with great enthusiasm and support by Toni Neary, Director of Education for Haas Tower – Morris Group, Inc. She and Greg Surtman, Workforce Strategist for Tooling U-SME, were NCATC’s first SP directors with terms starting on July 01, 2019. While Greg’s two-year term ended in June 2021, Toni’s three-year term will end this June 30, 2022.

We continue to be very lucky with the dedicated, engaged, and passionate SP directors who are elected to the NCATC Board each year. Last year Greg Jones, VP for Smartforce Development at the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT), was elected to replace Greg Surtman, and this year we welcome Tony Oran, VP at Festo Didactic, who will replace Toni (with an ‘I”) on July 1, 2022.

We will miss Toni on the NCATC Board – as we do all our past directors. And we know that she will stay actively engaged in all key activities and events with the NCATC members and Board moving forward, including our 2022 Annual Fall Conference – of which the Gene Haas Foundation is a Gold Sponsor. 

If you have a moment, drop Toni a note and thank her for all she does for CTE and workforce development across the nation with NCATC, NTMA, H-TEC, and many other advanced manufacturing related communities. She always sets the bar as high as she can, and then some.

We look forward to seeing all of you at the 2022 NCATC Annual Fall Conference in Concord/Kannapolis, NC, hosted by Rowan-Cabarrus Community College on September 21-23. This marks our return after a full three (3) years due to the pandemic measures of caution. We promise it will be worth the wait! Find all the information and registration links HERE.

And, we will continue our 2022 Strategic Partner and Government Relations Webinar Series focused on DEI, Industry 4.0, Work-Based Learning, and CTE/WDF Policies in partnership with Universal Robots, New Scale Robotics, MSSC/Amatrol, Core Learning Exchange, Festo Didactic/Siemens, and AACC in 2022. Plus, you can find all the past webinar recordings on the NCATC website here.

NEW – On June 23rd NCATC is holding the Q2 - Quarterly Member Drop-In, which will focus on NCATC Strategic Pillar 2: Work-Based Learning: Apprenticeships and More for Workforce Development Programs – Best Practices, Needs Discussion with Members. REGISTER HERE.

And as always, we encourage you to stay regularly connected and up to date on all ATC, WFD, and CTE related activities and guidance via the weekly updated NCATC website, social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), and quarterly e-newsletters like this one.
Our first face-to-face event – after the pandemic hiatus – since 2019
With input from many of our Members and Strategic Partners during the “pandemic pause” NCATC has reengineered many of the aspects of our in-person conference to be even more immersive than before. Key focus areas at the 2022 Fall Conference center around NCATC’s 4 Pillars:

  • Future of Work: Industry 4.0/x.0
  • Work-Based Learning / Apprenticeships
  • Competency-Based Education with Industry-Recognized Credentials
  • DEI and Adult Education

We look forward to seeing you there!
Equity Machine Works
SPC / Speaker / Diversity in Manufacturing Proponent
Executive Director
Diversity & Inclusion Champion | Manufacturing Expert | Keynote Speaker & Presenter
Dean, Engineering, Manufacturing & Industrial Technologies
Macomb Community College
Director of Education
Haas Tower - Morris Group, Inc.
Vice President
Festo Didactic - North America
Agile Strategy Lab, University of North Alabama
Co-author, Strategic Doing: Ten Skills for Agile Leadership
President & CEO
Center for Occupational Research and Development
Factory Manager
Caterpillar Inc.
Department Chair | Advanced Manufacturing
Forsyth Technical College
Gold Sponsor ($5000)
Silver Sponsors ($2500)
NCATC wants to engage more deeply with our members via our newly launched Member Drop-Ins that focus on one of NCATC’s 4 Strategic Pillars each quarter.    

Fresh from our meetings in DC with AACC, US DOL, and the Swiss Embassy on Expanding Community College Apprenticeships (ECCA) the end of May 2022 – the Q2-22 Member Drop-In will focus on NCATC Strategic Pillar 2Work-Based Learning: Apprenticeships and More for Workforce Development Programs – best practices and additional needs of our members.    

Our time together will be with four NCATC Board Directors getting the conversation started by briefly highlighting each of their best practices articles from this newsletter.    

At a minimum, 40 minutes will be peer-to-peer, free-flowing conversation of sharing, listening, learning, asking questions, and building a stronger community around this focus area. Bring your “What I Have” and/or “What I Need” mindset to share.  The goal will be to sustain these problem-solving ideas, relationships built, and conversations beyond our 60-minutes together during our Member Drop-In. 

Please join us on Thursday, June 23, 2022 @ 2:00pm ET!
Summer Camp programs provide valuable opportunities for children to be adventurous, discover new environments, and build relationships and interpersonal skills. This summer, Edge Factor and NCATC are providing a free virtual Summer Camp toolkit with 5 Days of STEAM media and hands-on Challenges! Each STEAM Challenge sparks students’ creativity, demonstrates how STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) comes alive on the job, teaches soft skills, and empowers students to explore careers.

  1. This free Summer Camp Toolkit includes STEAM-based challenges and story-driven career exploration tools. There are two age-appropriate versions of the toolkit—one for grade 5-8 students and one for grades 9-10+ students:
  2. The Junior Summer Camp toolkit for grade 5-8 students includes 5 keynote presentations (one for each of the 5 STEAM Days!) to get students excited about careers and present the STEAM Challenge. Students can complete each Challenge by submitting a form with a picture or video of them completing the challenge and will be entered to win an Amazon Gift Card!

The Senior Summer Camp toolkit for grades 9-10+ students includes a keynote presentation featuring President & Founder of Edge Factor, Jeremy Bout, encouraging students to try new things, rise to meet challenges, and embrace lifelong learning.

To access the free Summer Camp Toolkit, all you need to do is register. As soon as you register, you’ll gain instant access to the tools and resources, and be able to share the links across your network!
In This Issue

  • Apprenticeships: A Proven Path to Success
  • Apprenticeship Coaching: Relationships Improve Retention
  • Reading Area Community College – Advanced Technology Center Industrial Maintenance Manufacturing Apprenticeships
  • Jobspeaker Customer Success Story: Allan Hancock College Engages Its Community Partners to Offer Robust Career Pathways for Students
  • College of the Canyons Selected for CADENCE Grants
Apprenticeships: A Proven Path to Success
In the U.S., many people’s views of apprenticeships seem to be that of the Dark Ages blacksmith and his young apprentice toiling over the anvil and fire. The realities of the modern apprenticeship are far from that outdated image, providing individuals with great opportunities to earn while they learn and prepare for high-demand, highly skilled fields. 

In essence, an apprenticeship is a job that combines on-the-job training with theoretical and practical education. Employees of the sponsoring company, apprentices earn a good wage while receiving the training and education they need to prosper in today’s job market. There are literally thousands of professions that use the apprenticeship model to recruit and train highly skilled employees 
At Macomb Community College, the employer-sponsored programs center on the skilled trades and advanced technology, including millwrights, machinists, CNC operators, and programmers, among many others.

“Apprenticeships are an excellent opportunity to support local industry in their efforts to recruit and train highly skilled employees in a tight labor market,” said Vikki Gordon, Ed.D., apprentice coordinator, Macomb Community College. “It’s a tried-and-true method. The apprentice gains valuable education and experience, and the employer gains a skilled and dedicated employee.”
Programming the CNC machine is one of the skills Thomas Oliver has mastered during his apprenticeship with TK Mold & Engineering and Macomb Community College.
An apprenticeship is a job. It combines on-the-job training with theoretical and practical education to prepare highly skilled workers for industry.
An apprenticeship is not the same as an internship. Both involve on-the-job training, but an apprentice undergoes training in which all skills for a particular occupation or trade are taught, getting hands-on experience while working under the guidance of a skilled and experienced manager. An internship provides students on-the-job exposure to the field they are interested in, practicing skills and supplementing their education, for which they may or may not be paid.

There are two types of apprenticeships, which are termed registered and in-house. Registered apprenticeships that are coordinated through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) receive guidance on the type and content of on-the-job training. On completion of a registered apprenticeship, the trainee receives a certificate of completion from the DOL, sometimes referred to as a journeyman’s card, demonstrating their proficiency. When the trainee completes the educational part of their apprenticeship, they also receive a certificate of completion from Macomb. In-house apprenticeships, while not governed by the DOL, can provide the same level of training and education.

Aramark, a facilities maintenance provider that services the GM Tech Center in Warren, has a DOL-registered apprenticeship program and has seen much success with 30 apprentices in their program.
Thomas Oliver prepares a CNC machine for operation in Macomb’s CNC lab.
“It is so impossible to hire qualified skilled trades employees that we build them ourselves,” said Doug Rhodes, general manager, Strategic Development/Implementation, Aramark. “We pay for school and on-the-job training. We’ve found that 97% of them are likely to stay with the company after the apprenticeship is complete. I have seen first-hand the commitment this group has brought to the program. I look forward to watching them continue to grow, obtain the skill set, training, and education to become Aramark/UAW Journeypersons.” 

A traditional apprenticeship at Macomb typically lasts approximately four years, with the apprentice completing 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning and a minimum of approximately nine credits of education annually. Wage increases are built into the contract and may be received as often as every six months as the apprentice progresses through the program. There are programs that are shorter in duration, depending on the profession. For example, the quality control technician apprenticeship is 4,000 hours (two years). 

Thomas Oliver, 22, of Sterling Heights, is an apprentice with TK Mold & Engineering and a student at Macomb, where he is completing the educational portion of his registered apprenticeship. Oliver is currently training on CNC machine operation and programming. 

“My uncle works on CNC machines Up North and that was cool to see in person when I was young,” said Oliver. “I went from a little kid going to a giant shop to working in one, and I’m very happy with that decision.”

Oliver feels the apprenticeship model has accelerated him through the process of landing where he wants to be. Learning and applying that education at the same time has been instrumental to his success. 

“The apprenticeship allows me to apply what I’m learning in class the same day rather than learning for years and years and not being able to use that knowledge until the end,” said Oliver. “One of my favorite parts is being able to ask questions, because if I wasn’t working in the field, I may not know what to ask. I know what I need to know, and I can talk to the right people right then and there.”

Macomb apprenticeship coordinators can help employers identify potential apprentices, create the educational experience and guide the employer through the intricacies of the program.

For more information on starting an apprenticeship program with Macomb, employers can email apprenticeship@macomb.edu or call 586.445.7414.
Apprenticeship Coaching: Relationships Improve Retention
Gateway Technical College has a unique history in apprenticeship. It was the first vocational college to offer requisite training to apprentices when Wisconsin introduced the first Registered Apprenticeship system in 1911. With over 100 years of history, some apprenticeship training practices have become outdated and less effective, contributing to retention and workforce development issues. Invested in the success of its apprentices, and with funding from the American Association of Community Colleges ECCA initiative, Gateway implemented coaching for its apprenticeship students.

Why coaching? According to the 2016 ICF Global Coaching Study, clients are the experts in their own careers and lives. Skilled coaches use assessment, inquiry, and reflection to help clients explore and make decisions on their career path. Through coaching, Gateway can best meet its apprenticeship students’ individual needs, and support their professional development and successful apprenticeship journey. 
Using Gallup’s Clifton Strengthsfinder assessment, Gateway apprentices learn their top strengths. Apprentices also meet with their coach, Gateway’s Supervision and Leadership Instructor. Coaching sessions then expand on the strengths and needs of the individual, focusing on their apprenticeship journey, a successful career, and the interpersonal relationships therein.

Most apprentices who have taken part in the coaching state that it is a positive experience that has made a significant impact on them individually and professionally. What started as efforts to improve the apprenticeship experience—in performance, retention, engagement, and communication with mentors, supervisors, and coworkers—has resulted in changes that impact mentors and mentees on every level.
To hear first-hand the positive impacts of coaching on apprentices and their work experience and why apprenticeship instructors find this valuable in the development of new apprentices, please view A Case for Coaching.

If there are further questions or you would like to learn more about the coaching program, please contact:

Nicci Pagán
Apprenticeship Coordinator, Gateway Technical College
paganj@gtc.edu / 262-564-2952
Reading Area Community College – Advanced Technology Center Industrial Maintenance Manufacturing Apprenticeships

The Good, the Past, and the Debate
According to Trading Economics, the “Unemployment rate in the United States averaged 5.75% from 1948 until 2022, reaching an all-time high of 14.70% in April of 2020.” Here we are in the middle of 2022 and in just two years, the unemployment rate in the United States is 3.6% (Bureau of Labor Statistics, USDOL).

The Reading Area Community College ATC in Reading, Pennsylvania, serves a 60+ mile radius of 300+ manufacturers looking to hire (ASAP) cross-skilled industrial maintenance and mechatronics technicians. Well guess what … we don’t have enough! Nobody has enough!


The apprenticeship model has stood the test of time. Wisconsin created the first state Registered Apprenticeship system in 1911, and in 1937 Congress enacted the National Apprenticeship Act (also known as the Fitzgerald Act), establishing the program as it is today (USDOL). Registered apprenticeships continue to be widely adopted as an employment model in the traditional trades in construction and in manufacturing jobs like electricians, pipefitters, machinists, and HVAC technicians.

Our younger workers value career growth and development opportunities. They want a clear plan for development goals that lead to advancement. They want work that is interesting, teaches them skills, and then allows them to utilize those skills in their jobs. They like knowledgeable leadership that helps them as they learn and are engaged in their work. Voilà … the apprenticeship model!


For the past two decades, most manufacturers that we have worked with have said “no thank you” to developing manufacturing industrial maintenance apprenticeships. The reasons include:

  • I’m not going to invest time and money into an apprentice who will leave for a better job after they complete it.
  • My needs are too complicated and diverse for a standard program.
  • I just want to hire an experienced technician. I can’t wait 4 or 5 years to get a competent maintenance technician.
  • I don’t want to be forced into employee pay increases.
  • The registered apprenticeship process is so complicated.
  • A registered apprenticeship program doesn’t let me “customize” a program to my needs.
  • I don’t have or can’t afford to provide a journey worker to directly supervise the apprentice.
  • I can’t commit to 144 hours of related training per year AND the OJT.

Despite all the reasons NOT to develop industrial maintenance apprenticeships, manufacturing employers are becoming more receptive to developing apprenticeship-like programs.


Industrial maintenance and mechatronics technicians are a HIGH PRIORITY occupation. At the RACC ATC, we have served 300+ unique manufacturers. From making chocolate bunnies to making automotive batteries, not one isn’t looking for skilled industrial maintenance technicians, and not one isn’t open to looking to hire underrepresented populations of workers.

At long last, there is serious support and commitment from the U.S. Department of Labor to increase the diversity of apprenticeship programs as well as increase the diversity of underrepresented populations in apprenticeships. In focusing on the manufacturing sector, the aim is to increase apprenticeship programs in other work areas (e.g., mechatronics, robotics, and instrumentation and controls technicians and industrial engineers), not just construction and the manufacturing trades, AND increase the diversity of the people in apprenticeship programs historically reserved for Caucasian males. The primary focus of the USDOL is on registered apprenticeships, and that is where the debate starts.

At the RACC ATC we help our customers identify the best approach to creating a training program that suits their needs and their culture.

In-House Apprenticeships versus Registered Apprenticeships

The Similarities
  • A standard curriculum of courses/training/learning that can be “cherry-picked” to meet the exact needs of the job either in the third-party-provided related training or the on-the-job training (OJT).
  • Selected students ARE employed by the company either as entry-level apprentices or interns.
  • The company pays for everything—the program cost and the time the employee is learning in both the related training and the OJT.
  • There are “levels” of skill advancement and pay increases for completion.
  • Programs can take multiple years to complete because the employee is learning, performing, and earning, not learning everything first and then getting hired.
  • Employees do have transferable skills after completion, but many stick with their employers to advance and grow.

The Differences
  • In-house apprenticeships are faster to develop.
  • In-house apprenticeships are easier to alter/revise.
  • In-house apprenticeships can appeal to MORE underrepresented populations because of the perception of registered apprenticeships being a “brotherhood” labor/union workforce.
  • Registered apprenticeships have an appeal as a badge of excellence in a workforce field.
  • With in-house apprenticeships there is no hard requirement for a “journey worker” to supervise the apprentice.
  • In-house apprenticeship programs are perceived to be, and in many cases actually are, “owned” by the company and not by the government.

In the last four months, the RACC ATC has been commissioned by five major manufacturers in our region to develop apprenticeship programs. Two are using our 69-credit Mechatronics Engineering Technology AAS degree in a three-year in-house apprenticeship, two are using custom technical programming in a two-year in-house apprenticeship, and one is using a mechanic two-year registered apprenticeship. 

The takeaway is this: ALL will benefit as an employer of choice for recruiting and attracting the workforce of the future by using a version of the apprenticeship model! Registered apprenticeships and in-house apprenticeships are both getting the job done for the RACC ATC manufacturing community.
Jobspeaker Customer Success Story: Allan Hancock College Engages Its Community Partners to Offer Robust Career Pathways for Students
Jobspeaker and Allan Hancock College have been working together for four years. Jobspeaker works to bridge the gap between education and employment for the skills-based economy. The Jobspeaker platform enables students/jobseekers to get on the right path based on their interests and skills, and employers to find candidates based on their unique skill sets.
Allan Hancock College is creating direct pathways through their regional partnerships (K-12, Workforce Development, Community-Based Organizations) to connect individuals to education that is aligned to jobs within the community. Adopting Jobspeaker as a comprehensive and integrated career engagement platform helps students simplify their job search process, supports students’ career preparation, and enhances engagement with industry partners.
According to Dr. Nohemy Ornelas, Associate Superintendent/Vice President of Student Services at Allan Hancock College: “Our focus is connecting employers with students through a skill and career-based platform. Jobspeaker enables students to highlight skills from their coursework and develop a profile to help build their resumes. When employers seek a specific skill set, they can see the skills that a student has accumulated during their coursework and match those skills with jobs, internships, and skill-based training opportunities.”

Employer Engagement
Allan Hancock College is part of a regional consortium that integrates employer engagement by working with eight other community colleges. This approach reduces the burden on employers by providing a single access point for all employers to hire any students in the Jobspeaker system.
Advanced Manufacturing in California
The manufacturing industry accounts for over 23% of California’s economic output. Courses at Allan Hancock College are designed for first-time college students, re-entry students, and current industry employees looking to enhance their skills and/or upgrade their training. There is a huge disparity in the industry currently, with over half of the NTMA’s (National Tooling and Machining Association) members coming to retirement age by 2025. This leaves a huge skill gap coming in the industry.

Interested in learning more about how Jobspeaker can help your industry and community thrive? Get in touch with us at info@jobspeaker.com.
College of the Canyons Selected for CADENCE Grants
In 2021 the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Defense Manufacturing Community Support Program (DMCSP) launched a network of 15 projects in the state of California under the California Advanced Defense Ecosystem and National Consortium Effort (CADENCE). These projects are managed by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) in collaboration with the California Community College Chancellors Office (CCCO). CADENCE project activities focused on supporting California suppliers in the defense innovation and manufacturing base that are involved in the advancement of key technologies or supply chains including microelectronics; fifth-generation (5G) wireless technology; cyber; space; artificial intelligence; and fully networked command, control, and communications (FNC3).

Through a competitive grant application process, College of the Canyons (COC) was selected for three CADENCE grantstwo for Project 9 (Manufacturing) and one for Project 10 (Business). Both projects focused on establishing student internships/faculty externships with DoD Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) or Small Business Technology Transfer Program (STTR) companies. The mission of SBIR/STTR companies is to promote technological innovation and economic growth through the investment of federal research funds in U.S. businesses. Since these small businesses need access to high-quality talent and COC students need work-based learning opportunities, the CADENCE projects were a great way to connect the two parties.

“The CADENCE model is an innovative and inclusive approach to work-based learning that provides all partiesthe employer, the faculty, and the studentan excellent environment for assisting the student to become workforce ready," said Harriet Happel, Dean of Career Education, Integrative Learning and Employment Center. "Additionally, the model is instrumental in helping the classroom to maintain curricular relevancy in Industry 4.0.”

This program is already yielding great returns for some of our COC students. For Project 9, one of our students received an offer of employment upon completion of the CADENCE internship. He recently started working full-time at the company he interned at and plans to complete his AA degree at COC in the coming months. "Having this internship has allowed our students to be able ‘test drive’ what it’s like to be an aerospace welder. It’s a win-win for the students and the employer,” said Tim Baber, welding technology chair. COC will be adapting this model as we are seeking to expand our work-based learning opportunities.
Welcome, New Members
New Education Members (since January 1, 2022)