Business benefits, training resouces of local colleges

by Tammy Sakry
Staff Writer

More than 50 business members from around the metropolitan area came to Anoka Technical College (ATC) Jan. 25 to find out how partnering with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system can benefit them and their employees.

With Anoka Technical College Education (ATC) Enterprise Manager Sarah Patnode (left) in the background, Minnesota Sate Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) Vice Chancellor of Advancement Michael Dougherty, ATC and Anoka-Ramsey Community College Interim President Dr. Jessica Stumpf, ATC Corporate Center Executive Director Jamie Barthel and moderator John Palen, founder of Allied Executives, have a panel discussion on the benefits of college and business partnerships. Photo by Tammy Sakry

Many did not know how the college system, especially the technical college and Anoka-Ramsey Community College (ARCC), can help businesses and what resources are available, said Sarah Patnode, ATC Education Enterprise manager.

Business members from other educational groups, construction trades, career development companies, non-profits as well as banking, insurance, printing, services-based and manufacturing industries came to the college as part of the Allied Executives, a peer exchange group, forum.

Speaking to the members were MnSCU Vice Chancellor of Advancement Michael Dougherty, ATC and ARCC Interim President Dr. Jessica Stumpf and ATC Corporate Center Executive Director Jamie Barthel.

The intention was to start a conversation with businesses on how educational institutions are working with businesses to share resources, but most of the people at the Jan. 25 event were just learning what resources the colleges can offer, Patnode said.

The ATC and ARCC provide innovative career technical education to help their students and communities learn and live well, she said.

ATC’s Corporate Center’s focus is to bring training to the community, said Barthel.

By talking to businesses, the center’s staff can learn about the individual business and what its needs are and what it is looking to do to bring the bring the business to the next level, he said.

The corporate center works with both small and large businesses to design training specifically for them, Barthel said.

It can also provide on site Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training.

Because they are not a private for-profit training company, the costs are lower compared to for-profit training groups, Barthel said.

“We can also bring the training to you. You don’t have to be close to the college,” Barthel said to the Allied Executives group at the forum.

The colleges offer both traditional credit courses as well as customized training.

They offer certified nursing program or they can credit a training package customized for what hospitals or care facilities want, said Stumpf.

Some programs, like the precision sheet metal course, can take unemployed students from despair to being employed in a relatively short period of time, which helps the community as well, she said.

The colleges are also interested in developing partnerships with businesses to help align the curriculum, equipment acquisition and student training opportunities.

Previous partnerships have resulted in equipment donations to colleges and, in return, the students are trained on the equipment the companies are using in the industry today, Stumpf said.

These types of donations ensure that employees will get a workforce trained on the equipment, she said.

It is a challenge every year deciding which program will receive budgetary support for technology upgrades and equipment donations or matching grants help keep the programs on the cutting edge, Stumpf said.

The colleges are also looking for businesses willing in the help train the students through internships as well as help to write the curriculum. Helping the colleges in this way will mean businesses will be assuring their student employees will have the skills the businesses need, Stumpf said.

Businesses that help write the curriculum will ensure the colleges are teaching what is needed in today’s market and identify industry trends, she said.

MnSCU wants to partner with businesses to help better prepare the Minnesota workforce and help improve the existing workforce, said Dougherty.

It is also important to make sure the graduates have the skill set that is needed, he said.

“MnSCU is working with 6,000 businesses around the state to provide customized training and professional development for 122,000 employees a year, (which) makes sure those companies stay competitive,” Dougherty said.

“We are helping those companies solve real world problems and keep Minnesotans on the leading edge of their professions.”

Tammy Sakry is at [email protected]