Riverland receives $1.97 million to fund ‘Earn and Learn’ project – Albert Lea Tribune

Riverland receives $1.97 million to fund ‘Earn and Learn’ project

Posted 8:52 PM on Friday, March 24, 2023

Riverland Community College received $1.975 million as part of the Congress-led 2023 federal budget allocation to fund a workforce initiative called Learn and Earn. Funding for the project was secured by Minnesota Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith.

Riverland’s Learn and Earn Initiative is a workforce development initiative aimed at strengthening the pool of skilled technicians in the manufacturing and transportation sectors by creating programs and programs that will provide students with the opportunity earn degrees or certifications while contributing to the workforce by working in high-demand fields that are experiencing unprecedented labor shortages.

Approximately $1.7 million of project costs will be allocated to upgrade equipment to meet industry standards for training students in manufacturing and transportation programs at the Albert Lea and Owatonna campuses , which will benefit the entire southern Minnesota region served by Riverland.

Riverland will launch a new Automation Robotics Engineering Technology Certificate beginning in the fall of 2023. A Diploma and Associate’s Degree in Applied Science will be launched in the future. The funding will purchase equipment such as industrial robots, industrial control systems, various programmable logistics controllers (PLCs), hydraulic power, electric motor controls, optical sensors and other upgrades essential equipment for Riverland’s advanced manufacturing programs.

Riverland is strategically increasing transportation training opportunities due to market demand. The purchase of an additional tractor-trailer and bus will increase Riverland’s capacity for transport training.

Approximately $275,000 of the award will be allocated to engage companies to develop a “Learn and Earn” model allowing learners to enroll in manufacturing and transportation programs while working part-time for partner companies to meet immediate and future labor demands.

Riverland will also recruit and develop a diverse pool of faculty to educate and retain diverse students who represent a growing percentage of the workforce pool. Collaborate with industry partners to identify qualified technicians who could be trained as part-time assistant instructors in credit and non-credit courses in the manufacturing and transportation sector.

Development and delivery of non-credit training and certifications in high-demand areas such as commercial truck driving (Class A and B), logistics, distribution, and welding to help business and industrial partners upskill current employees in shorter timeframes.

“Thanks to the great support of the Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, Riverland Community College is grateful for Congressional-led spending allocation to launch a $1.97 million Learn and Earn initiative that engages industry partners with students in programs manufacturing and transportation facilities at our three campuses in Austin, Albert Lea and Owatonna,” said Riverland President Dr. Adenuga Atewologun. “The stipend will invest in high-tech teaching equipment and create ‘learn and earn’ opportunities for students with the cooperation of employers in high-demand areas, such as manufacturing. and transportation. For employers currently experiencing unprecedented labor challenges and shortages, the Learn and Earn Initiative is a strategic investment in Riverland Community College to meet workforce development needs in the region we serve.

The college is working on the project plan for the first few months of 2023 as Riverland learns more about the timeline for receiving funds and requirements for federal awards.

The funds could be spent over the next three years.

Why is funding needed?

Manufacturing is the second largest industry in Southeast Minnesota Economic Development Region 10. DEED Labor Market Study Shows Projected 7% Increase in Needs in Southeast Minnesota for Electromechanical Technicians between 2020 and 2030 and reports 243 current vacancies. Additionally, in the Southeast Minnesota Planning Area, these occupations pay an average of $8.23 more per hour than the Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) basic needs cost of living estimates.

“At Design Ready Controls, our primary focus is people,” said John Hacker, Chief Financial Officer of Design Ready Controls. “This funding helps our employees continue their career growth and development within the company. We have partnered with and seen the success of the Learn and Earn programs and look forward to launching them with Riverland.

In transportation, Riverland has a unique opportunity to provide a solution to the critical labor shortage of commercial truck drivers and logistics specialists in the state.

According to the 2021 DEED Job Vacancy Survey, there are currently more than 14,250 job openings in transportation and material moving occupations in Minnesota, including 2,854 openings for heavy-duty and semi-trailer drivers. trailers. This number is expected to increase by 6.6% in new jobs, and it is expected that there will be 16,449 openings due to replacement needs as people leave the labor force for retirement or other reasons. Truck driving is also a well paid job. Data on DEED occupations in demand indicates that heavy truck and semi-trailer drivers have a median salary of $51,248 per year or $24.64/hour, or $6.55 more per hour than the salary average Minnesota median of $18.09/hour.

In the transportation industry, new federal Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) regulations require that novice drivers of commercial vehicles receive training from a registered provider. Riverland is the only approved CDL education provider in southern Minnesota. In response, Riverland will increase the faculty to allow for more enrollment. Businesses like school buses, waste management, hazardous materials and snow removal also need our help to educate safe, licensed drivers. These partners have asked Riverland to create more certificate programs to meet their needs. To do this, Riverland needs additional equipment to update and support these education and training opportunities.

“We are delighted to be an industry partner of Riverland,” said Ben Tweeten, Albert Lea Bus Company. “Our search for new talent is ongoing and we see great quality in the students we have hired through Riverland’s truck driving program.”
Our commitment to this program as an industry partner demonstrates the value we see in the comprehensive training provided by Jonathan and his trainers.

Riverland Community College, a member of the Minnesota State System, is a community college that strives to transform lives through excellence in service, education, and skills training. Approximately 4,500 students benefit from a wide range of credit-based educational opportunities each year. Of these 55% are first generation students and 26% are students of color. With campuses located in Albert Lea, Austin, and Owatonna, Minnesota, Riverland can be found on the Internet at www.riverland.edu.

Minnesota State has 26 community and technical colleges and seven state universities serving approximately 300,000 students. It is the fourth largest system of two-year colleges and four-year universities in the United States.

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