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Columbia Business Monthly

Mechatronic Partners

Aug 02, 2018 02:32PM ● By Emily Stevenson
By Dr. Alan Grier

It is signing day at Midlands Technical College, but there isn’t an athlete in sight.

Instead, the soon-to-be high school graduates signing their names are committing to hours of rigorous work in mechatronics and engineering technology. They are about to become players in a partnership in which Midlands Technical College (MTC) will prepare them for high-tech careers in advanced manufacturing at Michelin—one of the state’s largest employers.

As signing bonuses, Michelin in Lexington has agreed to pay 100 percent of their college costs, including tuition, fees, and books. This means the students will leave college with no student loan debt and a part-time job with Michelin.

Compare this to the rising level of student loan debt across the nation. For many graduates, the average student loan debt is $40,000.

Known as Michelin Technical Scholars, these students will make $12 per hour as reliability technicians. In these part-time jobs, the scholars will maintain and repair sophisticated manufacturing machines.

For Michelin, filling its workforce needs is a home run. For the students with no college debt, a monthly paycheck, nationally recognized credentials, and a clearly defined career path—it’s a grand slam.

By partnering with many local industries, Midlands Technical College is positioned to help students and companies like Michelin meet their employment goals in highly skilled positions. Mechatronics and Electronics Engineering Technology are just two of the programs offered at Midlands Technical College that are the basis for great manufacturing careers.

The Michelin Technical Scholars initiative, a registered apprenticeship program, is the result of the changing market for technically educated workers. Baby Boomers are retiring at record rates, and there are not enough college students enrolling in technical fields to fill this growing employment gap.

Michelin and other progressive companies are taking a long-term view of their employment needs and making it a priority to find qualified students while they are still in high school. These companies help enroll students in the appropriate technical programs, place them with skilled mentors, and support them as they learn what is necessary to be productive employees and members of society.

Companies across almost every industry could use the MTC-Michelin partnership as a model to recruit top talent right out of high school, and let MTC prepare those students to excel in those hard-to-fill positions that make operations function effectively.

Don’t sit on the sidelines. If you are an employer interested in having your own signing day or taking another innovative approach to meeting your staffing needs, Midlands Technical College stands ready to join you on the field.

MTC’s Business Solutions team works to identify and implement the right solution to help you meet your organizational goals. Contact Rebecca Taylor, MTC’s executive director for business solutions, at [email protected].