Introduction

Richmond Community College is implementing a Small Grant for Institutions New to the ATE Program to enhance its capacity to train technicians for the electric utility industry. The goal of the project is to increase enrollment in academic programs that prepare students for work in the electric utility industry in order to bridge the gap between employer demand for qualified workers and students with the skills to match employment opportunities. The goal will be achieved through implementation of four strategies: (1) create career and technical pathways for high school students to earn dual credit, (2) provide industry-related professional development for RCC instructors who teach high school students, (3) equip the career and technical classrooms at an area high school with up-to-date technology for hands-on learning, and (4) enhance marketing and recruiting efforts to increase awareness of career opportunities in the electric utility industry and the RCC programs that will prepare students for those careers.

Motivating Rationale

  The rationale for the proposed project is based on industry demand and a gap analysis that identified the strengths and weaknesses of RCC’s academic programs in meeting the needs of its industry partners. RCC relies heavily on its industry partners to identify workforce needs as well as helping to identify gaps in education and training. Data was collected over the past year through annual advisory committee meetings, employer surveys, employer evaluations of interns and workforce development training, national and state level employment reports, and annual program and student learning assessments. Analysis of this data identified three primary gaps that support the need for this project: unmet industry need, too few students with adequate math preparation enrolling in engineering technologies programs, and limited awareness of potential careers.