Clark State Community College is a step closer to offering its first Bachelor’s degree, which its leaders say would be the first of its kind in Ohio and is needed to fill a skills gap.
The school wants to offer a baccalaureate degree in manufacturing technology management. The school’s application has been posted to the Ohio Department of Higher Education website for public comment. It’s the second step in the approval process, according to Clark State.
“The degree that we are proposing is really innovative and does not exist in the state,” said Aimee Belanger-Haas, dean of business and applied technologies. “It will give students the chance to have a degree in advanced technology issues with a management style.”
Manufacturing is the third largest economic driver in the region, according to Clark State’s application
Within Clark State’s six-county commuter area, more than 64,500 workers — nearly 13 percent of the population — are employed by nearly 1,200 manufacturing companies, according to the college’s application. And this past year, the commuter area had 370 hard-to-fill supervisory jobs.
Clark State will work with its manufacturing partners to share with students issues they face on a daily basis and it will be up to the students to figure out solutions, Belanger-Haas said. Giving students real-world challenges will prepare them for their professional careers.
“This degree is a game changer for our manufacturing partners — they are facing record numbers of retirements,” Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin said in a statement. “In addition, it is taking these businesses far too long to fill vacant positions because of a significant skills gap in training.”
Manufacturers need students to develop solutions to complex issues in the industry, Belanger-Haas said.
“This program has been requested by industry and for industry to fill a specific need,” she said.
The Bachelor’s degree could be just the first of many for Clark State if the Ohio Department of Higher Education approves it, Belanger-Haas said. The more courses the community college can offer to help its manufacturing partners, the better, she said.
If the degree is approved, the school plans to offer it starting in 2018.
To comment on the application, go to https://www.ohiohighered.org/academic-program-approval/applied-bachelors-degrees.
Clark State worked with a lot of partners to make the degree a reality, Belanger-Hass said.
Springfield-based McGregor MetalWorking Companies has worked with the community college because it will help promote manufacturing, Vice President Jamie McGregor said.
“This degree is the culmination of Clark State’s effort to hear what the companies in our region are searching for in prospective candidates,” he said in a statement. “It’s an exciting time for Clark State, our community and the many businesses who are in dire need of a trained and competent workforce.”