West Virginia University at Parkersburg
Survey shows Mid-Ohio Valley employers want cross-trained, technically savvy maintenance personnel.
CONTACT: Bill Brown, Technology Division Chair, 304-424-8218.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
West Virginia University at Parkersburg is taking a novel approach in determining the technical needs of the area's 21st Century workforce: just ask.
A WVU Parkersburg survey of nearly 70 Mid-Ohio Valley businesses and industries is assisting the college in defining the area’s maintenance technician demands.
As a result of the survey data, the college will be offering a new Associate in Applied Science degree in Multi-Craft Technology this fall.
"By going directly to employers to ascertain their specific needs, we can develop programs that result in marketable graduates who fulfill the requirements of the area’s business and industrial workforce needs," noted Marie Foster Gnage, WVU at Parkersburg president.
The college received an $86,000 grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to fund a series of initiatives to develop the program, starting with a needs assessment phase. Another $15,000 was provided by a grant from the West Virginia Community and Technical College Council. Survey participants represented area manufacturing, community, health care, government and the hospitality sectors.
"What we wanted to determine was the technical expertise that Mid-Ohio Valley employers need in a maintenance position," explained Bill Brown, chair of the college’s Technology Division.
"The role of maintenance personnel has morphed from using duct tape to keep a machine operational to accessing a laptop computer to monitor and anticipate mechanical breakdowns before a situation becomes critical," he added.
The survey confirmed that. Sixty-eight area employers in West Virginia and Ohio indicated they seek technically savvy maintenance personnel. They need workers who are flexible and cross-trained to respond to workplace needs. Survey results paint the profile of a technician with basic communications, computer, English, math and measurements skills who reads blueprints and has a familiarization with workplace safety, Brown said.
"Employers told us that they need maintenance personnel who can install, service, repair and maintain equipment in today’s workplace," added Brown. "We have designed the degree specifically around area employers’ needs so that our graduates have the opportunity to stay in the Mid-Ohio Valley if they choose or parlay their skills in jobs elsewhere."
As a result, the degree includes courses in preventive maintenance, system design and troubleshooting concepts that combine hands-on experience with technical knowledge of electrical, electronic, hydraulic and mechanical systems.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the multi-craft technology degree is that it allows students to "customize" a specific area of expertise to their training and target a particular employment market. A part of the four-semester associate degree, these certificates include electricity basics, electric motors and motor controls, HVAC, machinery maintenance and troubleshooting, pipefitting, preventive maintenance, print and schematic reading, safety, valve operation, welding, and wood technology.
"With the generous cooperation of area business and industry, we believe we have designed a degree that will meet employer demands for a multi-crafted technician while also providing our graduates with skills and training that offer career advancement opportunities," Brown added.
He noted that program graduates will be eligible for employment in such positions as maintenance, heating/refrigeration or facility maintenance technicians; electricians, and maintenance supervisors, planners or inspectors.
Additional information about the degree is available by contacting Brown at the college.
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