Automation is affecting many sectors of the world economy, from transportation to manufacturing. Such automation can result in loss of lower skill jobs, as well as create opportunities for new, often higher skill jobs. Some studies suggest that more than 60% of the jobs in the inland region of southern California are automatable and, therefore at risk. To buffer this potential job loss, the Riverside Community College District/Norco Campus will develop a work-based learning program in the field of advanced manufacturing automation. This program will include accredited apprenticeships, coursework, certificates, and degree pathways. Apprenticeships are a potential solution for employers seeking to build their workforce and for students pursuing greater career opportunities. Norco College will establish and expand partnerships with employers and develop curriculum related to work-based learning and apprenticeship. This apprenticeship project aims to provide students with a foundation of technical knowledge in automation and manufacturing, as well as hands-on experiences in the industry.
The project aims to respond to the need for highly-qualified technicians in automation by: (1) developing a comprehensive apprenticeship program to train technicians to fill emerging automation-related technical occupations; (2) building partnerships with industry to ensure industry needs are being met, and to increase employer engagement; (3) implementing new strategies to support student recruitment, retention, and completion targeting underrepresented student populations (including women); (4) supporting existing apprenticeship programs; and (5) encouraging the implementation of accredited apprenticeship programs nationwide. These efforts will be coordinated with the state and federal apprenticeship agencies, the local Workforce Development Boards, and the California Community College system, with the goal of developing a systematic approach to apprenticeship opportunities in the region. The project has the potential to draw new talent into industries that are struggling to overcome the skills-gap, while increasing participation of populations underrepresented in the automation manufacturing industries.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.