By Dr. Hara Charlier
President of Central Lakes College
Central Lakes College just finished celebrating Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month in February. It’s really a community celebration, though. Students who graduate with a career and technical degree are your local nurses, auto techs and IT support. They are the ones helping to keep our community thriving.
At Central Lakes College, we are happy to say our 60-plus career and technical courses are still meeting in person and students are getting that same high quality education and experience that they always have.
In many of our CTE programs, our students have jobs waiting for them when they graduate. Some even start those jobs while completing their degree. That transition is made easily thanks to our workforce partners and program advisory boards, which are staffed with industry experts. Working with our faculty, they ensure our students are learning the most relevant skills with the most up-to-date equipment and procedures.
Every day I’m inspired by the success stories of our students. For instance, a recent welding student started his own welding business right after graduation and has been thriving on the demand for his work. We even have a Heavy Equipment Operations & Maintenance graduate in the South Pole right now, working with a team to bring supplies to a station to get through the winter season. Further, every single Diesel Equipment Technician student found a job last year after COVID-19 first hit.
These success stories are thanks in part to the wonderful partnerships we have with local businesses who provide support, materials and opportunities for our students. Many of our industry partners also serve on program advisory boards. It would be impossible to highlight every partner, but I would like to shine the spotlight on a few.
A great local partner to the CLC Heavy Equipment Operations program is Anderson Brothers Construction. They participate in our Technology Week each year, sending equipment and operators to demonstrate GPS Technology to our students.
CLC sent another three-dozen nurses into the workforce at the end of last semester. These students were able to gain valuable clinical experiences from some of our healthcare partners including: Essentia St. Joseph’s Medical Center, Lakewood Health System, St. Gabriel’s Hospital and Cuyuna Regional Medical Center.
Many of our CTE programs have a long-standing partnership with the Crow Wing County Fair. One of those partnerships is visible as you walk through the main gate, as our welding students designed, fabricated and installed the new fair sign. The fair has allowed some of our programs to use the grounds, including our Law Enforcement Skills Program to train students on specialized skills and our transportation programs to host the Nitro-X summer camp, where middle schoolers explore transportation-related careers.
In videography, our students shoot footage for KARE 11 when needed, and get a behind-the-scenes tour of their facility each year. Our students also intern at Lakeland Public Television.
Pequot Tool has several partnerships with our welding, robotics and machine tool programs. They partnered with CLC on their internal apprenticeship program, and they have held Minnesota Job Skills Partnership trainings with CLC through customized training.
Clow Stamping has a long-standing partnership with our welding program. They donate scrap metal to the program and support CLC in keeping our program costs lower and they get to utilize leveraged equipment funding based on these donations.
We are so thankful for each of our amazing partners. If your group or business would like to partner with one of our programs, give us a call! We are always looking for new, innovative ways to serve our students and communities.
There’s massive creativity and talent coming out of our programs. Every day you can see the impact that our students have on the community.
If you’re interested in a career and tech program, this is the time to pursue it. Thanks to state legislation, CLC is offering 44 one-year $2,500 Workforce Development Scholarships. It serves as an incentive for new students to enter high growth, high demand careers. These targeted scholarships will help encourage our local talent to remain in area communities and answer the demand for highly skilled workers. To be eligible, students must be accepted into a CLC manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, information technology, early childhood education or agriculture program and have completed the FAFSA. Students can apply for a Workforce Scholarship by visiting www.clcmn.edu/workforcescholarships. Applications are due April 5.
If you are interested in exploring your future, come check us out. You can walk through and explore our labs and learning spaces, and you can truly picture yourself at CLC.