Technical Colleges Seeing Lower Enrollment But More Job Offers Students as U.S. Manufacturing Expands
As careers in manufacturing and manual labor return to U.S. soil, there’s a problem that’s plaguing businesses around the country: a severe shortage of qualified workers to take on these now high-tech jobs. Even worse, colleges and vocational schools don’t have the students enrolled in their technical programs to move onto these careers.
At Dunwoody College of Technology in Minneapolis, MN, there is a dearth in the number of students enrolled in the school’s two-year technical programs. As a result, employers looking for educated mechanics, machinists, and other specialists are unable to find them to fill vacancies.
Employers located near Dunwoody and beyond have begun offering incentives to graduates in order to entice former students to come work for them. Jon Kukachka, Dean of Automotive Programs at Dunwoody, stated that the incentives include “Everything from signing bonuses to paying for tuition, to paying for their loans after they graduate, relocation fees, [and] tool allowances.”
The school’s Robotics and Manufacturing department has seen a similar trend in aggressive recruiting tactics from businesses. Between 30 of the program’s graduates this year, the school received over 400 requests to hire them, said E.J. Daigle, Dean of the Department.
Other companies are offering scholarships to first year students in order to secure the most qualified candidates for employment after their graduation. One Minneapolis company is providing a $10,000 scholarship to students followed by a $15 an hour paid internship.
Careers in automotive repair and manufacturing often rely on the use of complex machinery and tools controlled by computers.
The lack of interest in tech fields could stem from the societal pressure to earn four-year Bachelor’s degrees instead of two-year Associate’s degrees, according to some at Dunwoody. Still, employers are hopeful that more students will enter these fields, where salary levels have potential to increase fast.