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

Craig McAtee, NCATC CEO and Executive Director

December 2022

NCATC Friends and Colleagues,

In this issue, we focus on NCATC Strategic Pillar #3Competency-Based Education and Industry-Recognized Credentials.


The Emerging Degree Reset study published this year by the Burning Glass Institute notes that US employers have been shifting their focus from degrees to skills. This is measured by changes in the percentage of job openings that require at least a four-year degree.

A tight job market is motivating more employers, including Accenture, Google, IBM, and some state governments, to scrap degree requirements and open jobs to nondegree-holders. Maryland this year cut college-degree requirements for many state jobs—leading to a surge in hiring—and incoming Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro campaigned on a similar initiative.


The Department of Education (DOE) offers a College Scorecard website, which displays what graduates from each college who take out federal loans are earning three years out. Students and parents would be wise to consult it.


Some occupations have universal degree requirements, such as doctors and engineers, while others typically have no higher education requirements, such as retail workers. There is a middle ground, such as technician positions, that have varying credential, certificate, or degree requirements. 

Economically savvy students are already switching to STEM / STEAM majors — science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Many of these careers in Healthcare, Engineering, Technology, Manufacturing, and Software are considered the New Collar Workforce by Forbes, Fast Company, IBM, Indeed, and many others.


FACT: In most fields, for every one PhD and/or two engineers in the workplace, seven technicians are needed. This is known as the “1:2:7 ratio.”


In conjunction with Competency-Based / Skills-Based education and training – Industry-Recognized Credentials (IRC) play an important part in many technical jobs and careers, as well. Conferred by businesses, industry groups, and state certifying entities, IRCs signal that students have mastered specific workplace knowledge and skills – according to Thomas B. Fordham Institute for Advancing Educational Excellence. This first-of-its-kind study assesses the impact of IRCs earned in high school on employment and postsecondary outcomes for students who do and do not attend college. The findings can help education leaders and policymakers improve CTE and IRC opportunities.


NCATC is currently focused on three main federal and state policies for education and workforce development improvements:


  1. Digital Literacy & Skills for all levels – from Foundational to Industry 4.0/5.0 (see The Digital Equity Act),
  2. Pell Grant eligibility (Workforce Pell) to workers in Short-Term postsecondary education (AACC), and
  3. Prioritize CTE / Workforce Development Educators: Creation and Improvement of Teacher / Faculty Recruitment, Retention, Accreditation, and Wage Scales.


On December 15, NCATC's Q4-22 Quarterly Member Drop-In will focus on Pillar 3 of its 4 Strategic Focus Areas or Pillars: Competency-Based Education and Industry-Recognized Credentials. REGISTER HERE


And we look forward to seeing you at the AACC Workforce Development Institute – WDI 2023: Shockproof in Indian Wells, CA, this coming January 18-21. Find information and registration links HERE.


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.


Happy Holidays 2022!


J. Craig McAtee, CEO & Executive Director

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. 

The Q4-22 Member Drop-In will focus on NCATC Strategic Pillar 3Competency-Based Education (CBE) and Industry-Recognized Credentials (IRCs) for Workforce Development Programs / Career and Technical Education (CTE) – promising 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 recent 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, December 15, 2022, at 3:00 PM ET!


Congratulations to Doug Laven, a Mechatronics Instructor at South Central College in Mankato, Minnesota, on receiving the 2022 NCATC Innovation Award. This award is designed to recognize workforce professionals that have designed and implemented a significant innovation that has led to technical workforce gains, upskilling, or national certifications recognized by business and industry. Along with NCATC, NOCTI and NOCTI Business Solutions are pleased to sponsor this award and the outstanding individuals who earn this honor!

Congratulations to NCATC’s newly elected Board Directors for the 2023-2026 term beginning on January 01, 2023.

Dr. Richard Ammon

 College of Lake County (IL)

Harriet Happel, MBA

College of the Canyons (CA)

Linda L. Head

Lone Star College (TX)

Anthony M. Ponder, Ed.D.

Sinclair Community College (OH)

In This Issue

  • St. Charles Community College (SCC) launches Inaugural MegaTech Program
  • Marvin and Northland Community and Technical College Hold Grand Opening Ceremony for New Mechatronics Training Facility
  • WSU Tech Prepares Students via Innovative and Industry-Led Practices
  • The Urban Institute Took a Closer Look at Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs
  • Welcome, New Members and Strategic Partners

St. Charles Community College (SCC) launches Inaugural MegaTech Program

The SCC MegaTech program, a new career navigation program for high school juniors and seniors, hosted its first open house in September at its Technical Campus in Wentzville, Missouri. To address the qualified skilled technician shortage in the region, SCC designed MegaTech to develop essential work-readiness skills pertaining to industrial safety and employability and identify strengths aligned with career pathways. 

Programs such as this enable secondary students to dual-enroll in career tech programs at their local community college aligned with new and expanded associate of applied science degree options, certificates, and industry-recognized credentials sought after by local businesses. By building strong relationships with these organizations, they had the opportunity to give SCC direct input and provide guidance in the advancement of industry-driven curriculum, ensuring the development of a skilled workforce they are asking for. This project is part of SCC’s NSF-ATE MegaTech Industry 4.0 Technicians Project # 2202034, which seeks to develop technology career pathways for secondary school students and support successful matriculation to SCC and beyond. 

The inaugural program partnered with the Wentzville School District to give interested students the opportunity to explore mechanics, electronics, robotics, and computing used in automation and manufacturing. These high school students get hands-on experience through competency-based learning activities and simulations that promote technical skills development.

Successful students will have the opportunity to earn high school credit, college credit, and industry-recognized credentials such as OSHA-10 Card, MSSC (Manufacturing Skill Standards Council) – Safety, ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), and NC3 Precision Measurement.

Students and program faculty have engaged with local employers at multiple levels through classroom activities, on-site employer tours, and other embedded community activities. Employers have been extremely positive in response to these activities, and SCC is currently working with them to pursue work-based learning, internships, and other opportunities to inform the program moving forward.

Marvin and Northland Community and Technical College Hold Grand Opening Ceremony for New Mechatronics Training Facility

Marvin, a premium manufacturer of windows and doors, brought an all-new mechatronics program to Warroad, Minnesota, in partnership with Northland Community and Technical College (Northland). To house the growing program, the Advanced Resource Center for Innovation and Education (ARC) is open and ready to support the expanding need for education in advanced manufacturing automation in the region. A ribbon-cutting and grand opening ceremony for the ARC facility was held at 12 p.m. on Oct. 7, 2022.

ARC will support the mechatronics program, which was built on the foundational principles of a competency-based education model that caters to all learners regardless of their educational goals or starting points. The new center, where students will be able to earn up to a two-year associate of applied science degree or any number of certificates within the 60-credit program, is open and ready for students to continue their education. Courses are also available on a stand-alone basis to help students master specific new skills or take their personal interests to the next level.

“Advanced manufacturing automation and training in mechanical, electrical, automation and manufacturing technologies remain an urgent and growing need for employers in Minnesota as well as throughout the country,” said Peggy Anderholm, ARC education manager. “Our inaugural class in August 2022 has laid the groundwork for this much-needed and exciting educational opportunity, and the opening of the Advanced Resource Center will allow for further expansion of the program as well as a first-in-class facility for continued training.”

Students will be taught by newly acquired instructor Jackson Harren, a graduate of the University of Alabama with a BSE in industrial and systems engineering and an MS in management of technology as well as a previous Marvin Manufacturing Engineering team leader. Enrollment in the Northland mechatronics program at ARC will be granted on a rolling basis to best serve the unique schedules of every student. Scholarships and financial aid may be used toward tuition costs. More information on the new mechatronics program can be found at www.northlandcollege.edu.

“The opening of ARC is a strong and visible symbol of Northland’s close partnership with Marvin, as well as our continuing commitment to working with industry to serve the needs of our local community employers,” said Dr. Sandy Kiddoo, President of Northland Community and Technical College. “The still-new mechatronics program is itself groundbreaking—a hybrid curriculum teaching hybrid technical skills our students need to build meaningful, highly rewarding careers in fields with tremendous growth potential. Combined with the just-in-time delivery model that’s now available onsite in Warroad, the ARC opens up so many new, highly accessible opportunities for students and employers across northern Minnesota.”

About Marvin

Marvin is a fourth-generation family-owned and -led business headquartered in Warroad, Minnesota, with more than 7,000 employees across 16 cities in North America. The Marvin portfolio of products for builders, architects, and homeowners is designed to provide exceptional solutions for any project with a focus on creating better ways of living. Marvin products are distributed nationally through a network of independent dealers and are also exported internationally. Visit Marvin.com to learn more.

About Northland

Northland Community and Technical College (Northland) is a comprehensive college with campuses in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, and Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Northland also has an aerospace site in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, and campus extension locations in Warroad, Minnesota, and Roseau, Minnesota. Northland offers certificates, diplomas, transfer courses, and two-year degrees (AAS, AS, AA) in more than 80 areas of study, workforce training, and education programs. Northland is a member of Minnesota State, the third-largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States, and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. For more information about Northland, visit www.northlandcollege.edu.

WSU Tech Prepares Students via Innovative and Industry-Led Practices

WSU Tech approaches the development, implementation, and sustainment of each program from the lens of what’s best for students and how we can best support industry. This dual mission centers on best practices of being able to align programmatic objectives with industry demands while giving students the best opportunities to showcase their grasp of these objectives via industry-recognized credentials.


Across advanced manufacturing, applied technology, IT, and aerospace programs, the college has provided students access to credentials that have been emphasized by industry and align with key skill sets. The best examples are demonstrated in WSU Tech’s relationship with the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3). Utilizing curriculum and assessment created by industry, NC3’s credentials align with industry’s knowledge and skills required of entry-level technicians. A prime example is the six NC3 certifications in precision measuring (PMI) developed by Starrett and consistently emphasized by numerous industry partners as a fundamental skill set. WSU Tech implemented NC3 PMI certifications across numerous programs from machining to aviation maintenance to industrial automation. The college also worked with K-12 partners to deliver specific NC3 PMI certifications to middle and high school students to teach them the fundamentals of tape, rule, and dial caliper usage.  


Another avenue WSU Tech has taken to match the dual mission of supporting students and industry is to provide flexibility in scheduling, modes, and methods of delivery. For entry-level aerospace manufacturing technicians, WSU Tech implemented competency-based education to allow for easier access to flow through the program direct to employment as well as expanded learning for those students needing a little extra time prior to beginning on the factory floor. WSU Tech has also restructured schedules to allow for access to applied learning opportunities, book-ending program courses two-days a week, so students have access to earn-and-learn employment in program-related jobs the other three days. 


These innovative approaches to providing students opportunities, while supporting industry, have allowed WSU Tech to continue to grow programs and boost the greater-Wichita region.  

The Urban Institute Took a Closer Look at Career and Technical Education (CTE) Programs 

Students enroll in short-term career and technical education (CTE) programs to improve their career prospects. Well-designed programs have the potential to help “new majority learners”—students from low-income families and underrepresented communities—overcome barriers and improve their pathways to economic mobility. But to achieve a positive return on their education investment, learners need to make enough money with their new credentials to offset the debt they took on to complete it.


To help colleges and other educational institutions design CTE programs that lead to positive returns for students, a new Urban Institute study uses data from the College Scorecard to examine CTE programs and how student outcomes are shaped by program, institution, and labor market characteristics. Some key takeaways:

  • Median debt is roughly $16,000, but ranges from $3,700 to $45,000 across all short-term CTE credentials. 
  • Median earnings two years after graduation are about $32,000—twice the median debt—and range from $8,200 to $116,000.
  • As a result, a typical graduate’s debt burden comes out to about 56 percent of second-year earnings.
  • The kind of program students pursue—field of study and type of credential—adds the most to our understanding of the differences seen in debt and earnings across CTE programs. 
  • Institutional characteristics generally play a larger role in explaining student debt than they do in explaining earnings. 
  • Nonetheless, when we look more closely at the largest six fields of study, where students' choosing to study matters much more to students than what they study in all fields but health sciences.
  • Programs located in institutions with large shares of adult learners tend to have relatively high debt burden because students tend to take out more in loans and their earnings don’t sufficiently compensate. The same is true of programs with larger shares of women.

For more findings and actionable insights, visit the report.

Welcome, New Members and Strategic Partners - 2022

New Education Members

New Strategic Partners