NFNRC Contributor Newsletter-April 2023
Yuba College Manufacturing, Welding Score Big at National Project MFG Showcase
Joe Bauer doesn’t just remember last year’s national Project MFG finals… he still feels the adrenaline: The rush of the countdown clock. The wave of intensity watching his students add final touches to their project. The nail-biting anticipation of the judge’s scores.
For all the excitement in the atmosphere, the prestigious national manufacturing competition could have been an NCAA final or a Super Bowl.
“Just like any sports team, we have practice in the months leading up to the qualifying rounds,” explains Bauer, a manufacturing instructor at Yuba College and coach for the college’s Project MFG team.
But the students representing Yuba College weren’t kicking field goals or sinking baskets on that triumphant January day. They were showcasing their top-tier skills in the manufacturing and welding field across elite competitors from throughout the country. And after months of mentoring the Yuba College team, Bauer was honored, if anxious, to embrace the role of spectator.
“Once the competition starts, it’s up to them to collaborate and problem solve,” says the proud coach, who led Yuba’s four manufacturing and welding student representatives throughout the trade-focused Project MFG competition. The 2022 team moved from the qualifying rounds to regionals before ultimately securing a spot in the finals amongst three other nationally ranked colleges.
What can you create with 15 horseshoes and a welding torch?
While most students start with a wine rack or plant holder for this intro exercise, according to College of the Redwoods alum Amanda Cuttler, the real answer is anything — including a blazing-hot future.
Cuttler should know: She is celebrating a promotion to mechanical technician at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a prestigious Bay Area science and tech institution that serves U.S. national security interests. In her free time, the CR alum is also welding a mechanical dragon that will actually breathe fire for the popular Burning Man festival! To hear Cuttler tell it, she’s just putting the foundational skills she learned at College of the Redwoods to work … while proving that women can lead the way in industry and the arts.
“I’m among the few females in this field, and we hope to bring in more,” says Cuttler. Looking back on her career trajectory, she is grateful to her alma mater for helping her come so far.
Says Cuttler, “College of the Redwoods gave me the tools, skills, and confidence to be where I am now, to push myself, and to persist.”
Originally, Cuttler was a photography student, but she wanted something more hands-on to spark her creativity. That’s when she found the College of the Redwoods AS degree in welding. While the alum says it isn’t always easy being a woman in the trades, at CR, she found a community that believed in her. She says, “It was really nice to be supported and so welcomed by my teachers and peers.”
As we near the third anniversary of nationwide pandemic closures, it’s hard to fathom how completely our lives have changed. We’ve settled into a new way of being—it’s not quite the “before times,” but also not the dark days when we faced so many unknowns about COVID-19. Life has adapted. More people are socializing. More are returning to offices and downtowns. Long-awaited trips are being taken. Children are back in school. And college campuses across the United States are open. Nowhere in higher education has the loss of students been felt more acutely than at community colleges. Since the beginning of the pandemic, one in five community college students have disappeared from campus. And while community colleges have seen a very small increase in freshman enrollments, it doesn’t recover the enrollments lost over the course of the pandemic.
Brief overview of the DE4EC initiative followed by a review of relevant literature. Next, we offer a summary of the research methodology, including sample population, research instruments, data collection, and analysis. We examine key qualitative findings thematically organized, encapsulating successes, promising practices, and challenges.4 Whenever possible, we insert participant quotes that represent and contextualize the findings. Based on participants’ responses, a concluding section highlights recommendations and suggestions to clarify, elevate, and catalyze equitable dual enrollment efforts state- and nationwide
Dual Enrollment for Equitable Completion (DE4EC) helps California community colleges and their high school partners build dual enrollment programs centered on strengthening equitable access and completion outcomes for students underrepresented in higher education, particularly African American/Black, Latina/o/x, and students experiencing economic disadvantage.
As part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, WestEd is launching a new Center for Economic Mobility. Please visit our website at economic-mobility.wested.org, sign up for a monthly newsletter featuring practical tools for systems change, and read on for more information.
Education is an important step toward good jobs, but educational systems are often designed in a way that reinforces gaps for students from underrepresented communities. By attending to structural barriers in institutional processes, creating stronger social networks, and offering career connections, educators can create stronger and more equitable pathways to economic mobility.
The Center strengthens linkages between K–12, adult education, postsecondary, workforce development, and employers to foster access to postsecondary education, job training, and credentials that translate to successful careers with income stability and meaningful growth. Specifically, the Center works in the following areas:
1. With adult education systems to build pathways to college and living-wage jobs
2. With economic and workforce development entities to strengthen competitive and equitable economies
3. With postsecondary institutions to identify skills and occupational relevancy for all academic pathways
4. With intersegmental partnerships to link data sets and clarify how education aligns with the labor market
For example, WestEd is supporting community colleges to understand the economic returns of short-term course taking and strengthen access to education that will lead to living wages, such as articulation with adult and noncredit education, building stackable credentials, and supporting more adult learners to attain their academic and career goals.
Learn more about this project on the Center for Economic Mobility’s blog and sign up to receive monthly alerts about new tools and resources to support systems change, or reach out to me with any questions!
Kathy Booth, Project Director, Educational Data and Policy
Center for Economic Mobility | Economic Mobility, Postsecondary, and Workforce Systems /WestEd
Hybrid work is becoming the new norm for some workers
Three years into the pandemic, hybrid work has become the new norm for remote workers.
As of February 2023, of the workers with remote-friendly jobs, the share who were working a hybrid schedule was higher than those who work remotely all the time, 41% versus 35%, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center.
The fully remote crowd is shrinking: About a third of workers with jobs that can be done remotely are working from home all the time, according to Pew. That’s down from 43% in January 2022, and 55% in October 2020. Still, remote work is likely going to remain a permanent feature of the work landscape, in some form. Just 7% of the US workforce was working remotely all the time before the pandemic, Pew found. Overall, most people in the US workforce (61%) do not have jobs that can be done remotely.
The Northern Rural Training and Employment Consortium (NoRTEC) is seeking a Workforce Services Director. The NoRTEC Workforce Services Director’s primary area of responsibility will be the implementation and oversight of high-quality services to job seekers and employers under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act (WIOA) within the eleven (11) county NoRTEC region. The secondary area of responsibility will be to provide strong leadership to the organization as well as supporting and assisting the Executive Director, including acting in the capacity of Executive Director as needed. If you are interested, please click below to learn more