administrators

Akron president is latest in long line of leaders facing ramifications after applying for new jobs at other campuses

Akron president is stepping down after he applied for job in Florida. Is the system good for anyone?

The importance of fostering goodwill on campuses (opinion)

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Can fostering goodwill on campuses make a difference? Maria Shine Stewart reflects on the topic.

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Cornell College of Arts and Sciences considers new general-education program

Will proposal for streamlined general-education program at Cornell's College of Arts and Sciences give the curriculum new life? Can new approaches to language and diversity engage students who might otherwise lose interest?

OER gains momentum with federal push in 2018 budget

Congress has set aside $5 million for an open educational resources pilot program -- the most significant federal push for alternative textbooks. Advocates are encouraged.

Expert on virtual reality believes its higher ed impacts are still developing

Jeremy Bailenson, a Stanford professor who's dedicated his career to developing and studying virtual reality, thinks the tool is slowly but surely asserting itself in the higher ed classroom.

How to adapt the German apprenticeship model to work best in the U.S.

The American industrial sector is at a crossroads. The fourth industrial revolution has ushered in automation and precision manufacturing that increasingly requires highly specialized skills. Employers, government officials and higher education leaders alike are looking for a way for workers to acquire the expertise needed for the jobs of tomorrow.

Apprenticeships are typically associated with Germany, but they are gaining steam in the U.S. After all, there are more than 500,000 Americans currently in apprenticeship programs that offer an alternative pathway to traditional higher education -- one that is capable of bridging the STEM talent gap.

What makes the apprenticeship model so effective is a mix of classroom instruction at a high school, college or university with on-the-job training. That combination is invaluable in a rapidly changing industrial community where extremely specific skill sets are required.

However, colleges, universities or employers interested in starting an apprenticeship program should be wary of simply copying the German model. The two countries’ education and training systems are too different. To be successful, the U.S. must adapt the German model. To be certain, this will require work and there may be some missteps along the way, but the long-term benefit is immense.

It used to be that coding and design software knowledge were skill sets mainly associated with office jobs. However, they’re now part and parcel of modern factory life. Because of the constant information stream from sensors in today’s smart factories and a frequent need to build precision devices, the skill sets of 2018 are far different than the industrial skill sets of 1988. Working in a smart factory requires highly specific and hard-to-obtain skills that demand both academic dexterity and long hours of on-the-job experience to master. In this environment, hands-on learning is no longer elective.

While high schools and colleges are making greater strides to integrate advanced STEM skills into curriculum, they can only train for careers in Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to a certain point. Apprenticeships effectively bridge the gap in the education-to-career continuum by providing students the opportunity to be in the workplace mastering complicated, ever-evolving machinery and applying critical thinking to sophisticated manufacturing processes. In addition to these technical skills, apprenticeships also provide students with the opportunity to build soft skills and develop a professional work ethic that will serve them their entire careers.

Growing up in Germany, I saw firsthand how apprenticeships opened new career pathways for my friends. It’s why I’ve been excited to see the buzz around apprenticeships get louder in the U.S., first driven by organizations like the National Skills Coalition and Jobs for the Future, and more recently after President Trump called to expand apprenticeships.

Festo Didactic, a global provider of industrial education, is working to help colleges in the U.S. to create apprenticeships that draw from the German approach but are designed to work well in this country.

For example, in cooperation with several companies and Sinclair Community College, we helped create an apprenticeship program in Mason, Ohio, that focuses on mechatronics (electronics, mechanical systems and fluid systems). The program trains participants as automation specialists and maintenance, service and manufacturing technicians and has proven to be an effective addition to the education and training of the students involved.

As we initiated the program, we took baby steps, evaluating our approach along the way. We knew we didn’t want to do a copy and paste of the German model; instead we looked to lift the components that were the best fit for the apprentices and our partners and to modify the rest. The apprentices typically spend a few hours per day at a desk gaining foundational knowledge. Then they are tasked with applying that knowledge through hands-on exercises, becoming more familiar with the equipment and complex design engineering systems.

One of the most rewarding parts of the apprenticeship program is seeing the many ways it benefits the participants and educational institutions. Apprentices in the program are earning while they learn, and they’re already in a pipeline to a well-paying job with growth opportunities. The average worker in an advanced manufacturing role typically earns $60,000 to $90,000 annually, depending on experience. Equally as beneficial, Sinclair is able to give its students a leg up, and local employers are able to source and train the best talent in the tristate Cincinnati area.

The program in Ohio, and others across the country, are microcosms of the national potential of apprenticeships. The U.S. is rapidly converting to a new type of industrial economy where automation and workflow optimization mean that low-skill and even middle-skill factory jobs are disappearing. The jobs of today and tomorrow, those born out of IIoT and Industry 4.0 innovation, are more complex and require a new approach to training. It’s estimated there will be nine million new jobs in advanced manufacturing by 2022. Some of these jobs have yet to be invented. At the same time, the manufacturing industry often feels the full weight of the skills gap and unemployment challenges.

Apprenticeship models, which have been perfected in Germany over centuries, are one of the easiest ways to resolve that talent conundrum. Those of us who have been invested in this work know these work-force training programs are effective, practical solutions benefiting all involved. But it is time to connect the individual efforts across the country into a stronger network of programs. The interest, opportunity and need are all present -- and we have a template to follow from the Germans. Now it’s up to employers, government officials and education leaders to join forces to create an apprenticeship culture that is authentically American.

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Thomas Lichtenberger

Thomas Lichtenberger is CEO of Festo Didactic Inc., a global provider of equipment and solutions for industrial education.

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Engineer and apprentice with steel rolls
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Report: Texas Regents Recruit Rex Tillerson for Chancellor

Rex Tillerson speaking at the University of TexasMembers of the University of Texas Board of Regents are recruiting Rex Tillerson, whom President Trump recently fired as U.S. secretary of state, to be the next chancellor of the university system, The Wall Street Journal reported. While no formal offer has been made, Tillerson is open to the idea, according to the Journal. The chancellor search was reportedly nearing its conclusion when Tillerson, a former CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., was ousted from the Trump administration.

The next chancellor will succeed William H. McRaven, who announced in December that he will step down at the end of the academic year. McRaven became chancellor in 2015 after a decorated 37-year career as a military leader, including his previous role as a four-star Navy admiral and ninth commander of the United States Special Operations Command. McRaven cited health issues playing a "key role" in his decision. Some academics in the UT system had hoped for a chancellor with a background in higher education. The UT system includes 14 institutions with a collective enrollment of 234,000.

Tillerson is an alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin who has maintained ties to the university. He spoke there in February (above right). In 2014, Tillerson and his wife pledged $5 million for engineering research and education at UT.

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MassArt Professor Retires Amid Title IX Investigation

Nicholas Nixon, a well-known professor of photography at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, retired this month amid allegations of inappropriate behavior, The Boston Globe reported. President David Nelson announced Nixon's departure in an email to students and faculty members last week, saying, “We take reports of any form of sexual harassment, inappropriate behavior or misconduct seriously” and that was Nixon was no longer in the classroom.

Nixon reportedly referred requests for comment to his attorney, Bruce A. Singal, who said in a statement that Nixon received notice of a college investigation “into reports that he allegedly made inappropriate comments in the presence of students and staff members.” Singal said Nixon is “widely known for a provocative teaching style in a creative art school environment that he believed was inspiring to his students” and that “we hope the investigation can be completed before any conclusions are drawn.”

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Michigan 'Marshall Plan' for Talent

Michigan has announced $100 million in new funding for public colleges and K-12 schools as part of a broader effort to help fill more than 800,000 high-wage jobs in high-demand fields in coming years.

The new money will be spent in part on the creation of competency-based certifications and curricula across Michigan's public education systems, state officials said. The funding also will be used for scholarships, career advisers and teachers. It complements an additional $225 million in state spending aimed at closing the skills gap in information technology, computer science, manufacturing, health care and other areas. Employers are participating in the project and are working with community colleges in the state to change hiring requirements to better match up with certificate and two-year degree programs.

Roger Curtis, the director of Michigan's department of talent and economic development, said part of the goal is to help college students get more and better information about careers in in professional and vocational trades.

"A lot of the talent gap is a career-awareness gap," he said in an interview.

The move toward competency-based curricula will be a heavy lift, Curtis said. Much of that work will occur through partnerships between colleges and employers, he said, with the state largely playing a hands-off role.

"We don't want to dictate what this looks like," said Curtis. "We're going to leave this up to the experts."

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High Default Rates at New York For-Profit Colleges

New York State in 2016 spent $68 million on scholarships that went to students who were attending for-profit colleges, according to a new report from the Century Foundation. New York spends more on aid that goes to for-profits than any other state. And that amount will increase if New York expands its free-college program eligibility to for-profits.

Yet the state's for-profit colleges lag other sectors in student outcomes such as debt, default and earnings, the report found. For example, roughly half of students who attend a New York-based for-profit defaulted on their student loans. And the report said that for 39 percent of for-profits located in the state, a majority of their students fail to earn more than the average worker who holds just a high school credential.

"New York’s commitment to college accessibility shows in its highest-in-the-nation contribution to supporting private higher education," the report said. "Unfortunately, some colleges -- concentrated in the for-profit sector -- benefit from this investment while leaving students with more debt, worse employment prospects and higher default rates relative to peers at public and nonprofit schools."

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