Arizona community college students will have the opportunity to work in new, industry-backed internships in advanced manufacturing under a new program led by Pima Community College.
PCC has won a $4.23 million U.S. Labor Department grant to lead a consortium of Arizona community colleges and industry partners to develop a new model for manufacturing apprenticeship programs.
Pima was one of 23 grantees nationwide and the only Arizona grantee chosen to develop high-quality “industry-recognized apprenticeship programs” across the country.
Pima Chancellor Lee Lambert said the “earn-and-learn” and competency-based model will help meet the needs of manufacturers while expanding opportunities for students.
Pima, along with consortium members Central Arizona College, Estrella Mountain College, GateWay Community College and Mesa Community College, will work with industry partners to develop apprenticeships that blend classroom and on-the-job experience, allowing participants to earn industry certifications along with college credit.
The goal is to increase the manufacturing workforce, especially in the area of Automated Industrial Technology, Pima said, noting that major Arizona employers have committed to enrolling more than 3,200 mostly entry-level employees to advance their skills.
Under the Arizona consortium, apprentices will be able to earn industry-based certifications based on demonstrated competencies, and earn a certification after demonstrating their skills, independent of the time it takes, Pima said.
High quality, industry-recognized apprenticeship programs include paid work, work-based learning, mentorship, education and instruction, and industry-recognized credentials.
Students in the program also will receive support from Arizona@Work, Chicanos Por La Causa and in Tucson, the Tucson Urban League.
The National Institute of Metalworking Skills, which provides competency-based workforce credentials, will provide the certifications and technical assistance for apprenticeship at employer sites.
The Manufacturing Institute of the National Association of Manufacturers, which represents 14,000 member companies, and the National and Arizona Tooling & Machining Associations will help and share the program with their members in Arizona and nationwide.
In collaboration with the Arizona Commerce Authority’s Office of Economic Opportunity, Pima said, the model will be expanded to other participating employers and colleges in the Arizona Advanced Technology Network, a partnership between Pima, Maricopa Community College and Central Arizona College and several major technology, automation, aerospace and defense industry leaders.
Pima is looking to launch some new internships as soon as this fall.
In April, the group announced a new Automation Industrial Certificate — an advanced manufacturing credential aligned to National Institute for Metalworking Skills certification standards — would be offered with classes starting this fall semester.
Arizona’s need for workers trained in automation and other advanced manufacturing methods is expected to soar in the next couple of years.
Luxury electric-car startup Lucid Motors plans to break ground later this year on its $1 billion production facility in Casa Grande, expected to employ 2,000 workers; Nikola Motors, a hydrogen-powered commercial truck manufacturing startup, is projected to hire another 2,000 people for its plant in Coolidge; and Tucson-based Raytheon Missile Systems is in the process of hiring about 2,000 new workers as part of a major expansion.