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OCC to receive $4.5M in funding for skilled trades

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published March 18, 2015

 Tim Taylor, Oakland Community College Auburn Hills campus president, has big plans for for OCC’s auto servicing, collision repair, medium/heavy truck and commercial driving programs after the college received $4.5 million to purchase training equipment.

Tim Taylor, Oakland Community College Auburn Hills campus president, has big plans for for OCC’s auto servicing, collision repair, medium/heavy truck and commercial driving programs after the college received $4.5 million to purchase training equipment.

Photo provided by OCC

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FARMINGTON HILLS — Tim Taylor, Oakland Community College Auburn Hills campus president, is looking forward to the future of OCC’s auto servicing, collision repair, medium/heavy truck and commercial driving programs, especially after receiving a cool $4.5 million to purchase training equipment.

Taylor said the grant is timely because the commercial driving career is in desperate need of workers.                     

“These sectors are in need of lots of people, so the idea of bringing programming to the community that leads to high-paying jobs is really exciting for us,” Taylor said recently. “We’re just so excited that this is something that we can do and we can get moving on.”

Gov. Rick Snyder announced the decision Feb. 24, according to OCC officials.

The Michigan Strategic Fund will distribute the funds, and OCC will provide more than $1.5 million in matching funds, according to a press release. It is one of 18 community colleges that received a combined $50 million in grant funds to boost training in skilled trades.

“OCC received support from Oakland Schools, the Michigan Trucking Association, Central Transport and the Suburban Collection in its grant application,” states a press release. “Oakland Schools will provide articulation support, and the other partners will provide jobs and will stay connected with OCC as it implements programs,” the release said.

“Auto servicing, diesel mechanics and mechatronics are great occupations with high demand into the future,” OCC Chancellor Timothy R. Meyer said in a news release. “OCC is focused on meeting community need, and the transportation sector shows significant growth requiring skilled workers.”

The program offered up to $4.8 million to community colleges providing a 25 percent match for equipment costs, including installation, renovations and instructor training. The program also requires collaboration with school districts and a detailed plan on how the funding will help meet employers’ job needs.

The Michigan Economic Development Corporation approved the schools selected for funding through the Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program.

Taylor said the funding is going to be an “excellent” boost to the college program to “meet the need for the community.”

“One of the things we’re trying to do is develop programs that are responsive to community need, and one of the things we have identified in the truck-driving area is there is a tremendous unfilled need in our community,” he added.                        

Taylor said there are about 2,000 openings annually that aren’t being met for the roughly $40,000-a-year, heavy-duty truck driving job.

To help meet the need, OCC started working with businesses and industry members to develop performance competency-based programs.

“We’re going to try to accelerate the programs so that students can complete them as quickly as they can gain competency in the program,” Taylor said.

He added that some of the programs will create a “stackable-credential” format where students can take a number of classes, obtain certificates and create a degree.

An auto servicing and collision program, which has a similar structure, will be streamlined and restructured “in a way that makes sense to the local industry,” Taylor said.

Taylor said the mechatronics program will soon be expanded into a second-year program, and other programs will soon follow.

Taylor added that the college’s truck driving program will soon incorporate trucks and truck driving simulators. Students will receive their commercial driver’s license at the end of the program.

“We are going to need some trailers and things, and have students learn to drive trucks and the equipment with it,” he said. “We're looking at how we might use the truck driving program to be placed at all five of the campuses of OCC.”

Inside some of the trailers will be simulators, he added.

“So that those can be mobile, and what we might do is shift those from one campus to the next. It is kind of a neat idea that we’re going to try to implement,” Taylor said.

Most of these programs will be located at the Auburn Hills campus.

All programs will be within the national skill standards of auto collision and auto technician programs created by the Automotive Service Excellence group and the National Automotive Technical Education Foundation.

“They have standards that kind of set what the outcomes are going to be, and our programs are built around those standards,” Taylor said. “It is like being accredited.”

The programs are expected to be updated and implemented within the next couple of years.

Taylor said the college hopes the community reaction will be positive.

“When you’re looking at trying to get a job and support your family, you’re going to try to get a job that also makes a lot of money so you can do the things you want to do in life, and to have fun,” Taylor said. “These careers actually do that.”

For more information, go to www.oaklandcc.edu.

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