The Parkland College Blog

Parkland College to Host Parkland AgTech Showcase

Parkland College AgTech Showcase, March 10

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As part of Champaign-Urbana AgTech Week, Parkland College invites local community partners, ag industry professionals, K-12 educators, community members, students, and parents to join us for the Parkland College AgTech Showcase.

On Thursday, March 10 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., visitors can step inside Parkland's agriculture facilities, learn about the future of the Midwest Center for Precision Agriculture, and explore the new Early College and Career Academy (ECCA) program in Precision Agriculture.

The event will open with a presentation at 9 a.m. in the Tony Noel Agricultural Technology Applications Center (W Building) followed by tours of the college's ag facilities. Throughout the event, participants will learn about the recently launched ECCA track in Precision Agriculture and employer-sponsored programs such as the CNH Service Technician and Advanced Applicator Technician programs, and hear from Parkland's newest partner AGCO/Fendt about the new dealer technical training offering on campus.

Visitors can also enjoy hands-on activities such as drones, equipment ride-alongs, data visualization, an applicator simulator, and more; learn about opportunities that provide students with 100 percent paid tuition and guaranteed job placement upon graduation; and discover career opportunities in the ag industry by hearing from local employers in the field.

Parkland Ag and Diesel programs offer two-year Associate in Applied Science programs, a transfer program, the Parkland Pathway program, and numerous certificates that prepare students and working professionals with training, education, and credentials they could use right away.

RSVP by March 8. Prospective students should register here, and other community members here.

New Industry Apprenticeship Program at Parkland College

Birkey's Farm Store partners with Parkland to train ag equipment techs

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Parkland College and Birkey's Farm Store announce the launch of a new, nationally recognized apprenticeship program to train agriculture and construction equipment technicians.

As an expansion of Parkland and Birkey's decade-long partnership, the new Birkey's CNH Service Equipment Technician Apprenticeship Program pairs formalized on-the-job training with technical coursework to help Birkey's develop more highly skilled employees, according to Derrick Baker, dean of Parkland's Career and Technical Education division.

"We are thrilled to be able to serve both Birkey's and our students through this new apprenticeship program," Baker said. "This kind of program is not only a cost-effective way to help employers recruit, prepare, and retain qualified technicians, but it also serves students by providing access to high-wage, high-skill, in-demand jobs alongside their educational training. And it does so in a way that values the skills and expertise of experienced workers as they pass on their knowledge to a new generation. It's a win-win, not just for Birkey's and the students, but for the whole community."

Newly registered with the U.S. Department of Labor, the Birkey's CNH Service Equipment Technician Apprenticeship Program incorporates the college's Case New Holland (CNH) Service Technician Associate in Applied Science with on-the-job training and mentoring in Birkey's stores throughout Illinois and Indiana over a three-year period.

The program began this fall with 11 first-year apprentices and six second-year apprentices. Upon completion of the apprenticeship, graduates will receive a nationally recognized journeyworker certificate from USDOL in addition to Parkland's CNH AAS degree. Birkey's Director of Human Resources Curt Carter says the program will help the company reach important industry-based goals.
 
"Birkey's is always on the lookout for new talent to help ensure a strong future in the farming and construction industries," Carter said. "We want to do our part to enable the workforce by providing well-trained technicians to service our customers' equipment. The CNH Service Technician Apprenticeship is an exciting way to achieve these goals and provides apprentices the opportunity to become skilled technicians who have a bright, promising career ahead of them."

Parkland's 65-hour CNH program will prepare students to maintain and repair equipment used in Case New Holland, Case IH, and Case Construction dealerships. Heavily lab-focused, the hands-on training includes coursework in hydraulic systems, powertrains, electrical systems, fuel systems, service department operations, welding, engine theory and overhaul, and air conditioning.

CNH dealers who wish to participate can receive support and technical assistance from Parkland College, an approved USDOL apprenticeship intermediary, who will expedite the registration process with the apprenticeship agency. After registering, dealers can immediately enter employees into the Service Equipment Technician program. Next, dealers will identify master-level employees who are capable of and willing to mentor apprentices. Dealers will then identify potential candidates or incumbent workers who would benefit from the apprenticeship program and enroll them.

Birkey's Farm Store has served Illinois and Indiana since 1954 with product sales and support and a network of 17 locations and 400+ employees. The company, headquartered in Champaign, Illinois, owns and operates a network of full-service Case IH agricultural and Case construction equipment stores throughout Illinois and western Indiana. The Birkey's network serves the Illinois communities Annawan, Arthur, Bloomington, Casey, Galesburg, Gibson City, Henry, Hoopeston, Macomb, Mattoon, Newton, Oakland, Polo, Propheststown, Shelbyville, and Urbana, as well as Williamsport, IN.

For more information about the Birkey's CNH Service Equipment Technician Apprenticeship Program, please contact Education Liaison and Recruitment Specialist Travis McClure at tmcclure@birkeys.com. Businesses located in Parkland's District 505 can contact Parkland Apprenticeship Coordinator Aimee Densmore at adensmore@parkland.edu.

Parkland College, in collaboration with the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation, the University of Illinois Research Park, regional manufacturers, and community partners, has submitted a bid to become the site of a $7.5 million manufacturing training academy through a grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). Governor JB Pritzker announced the program in Champaign County in late October during a tour of local of manufacturers.

Focused on meeting the emerging training and workforce demands of Illinois manufacturers, the academy will leverage the assets of the Champaign-Urbana community to grow the manufacturing talent pipeline, provide hands-on training in advanced skills, and assist manufacturers from across the region in scaling emerging technologies. Training opportunities will include advanced skills in machining, robotics and programmable logic controllers (PLC), and advanced manufacturing in addition to the core elements of manufacturing already available, such as welding.

“Community colleges are vehicles and engines of economic growth and vitality for our communities and our state,” said Parkland president Dr. Thomas Ramage. “Parkland is well-positioned to be the site of this strategic investment due to the track record of success in scaling regional training programs like the Parkland Institute of Aviation, Ford ASSET program, and the Midwest Center for Precision Agriculture. Proximity to and collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ensures that the AMTA will continually have access to the innovations and technology that will shape the future of manufacturing.”

Laura Frerichs, Executive Director of the University of Illinois Research Park says she agrees that locating the Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy in Champaign-Urbana would provide a strategic advantage to scaling new companies stemming from the latest research and development taking place at the University.

“One of the challenges of scaling a research and development startup company is the transition from prototype to scalable product,” said Frerichs. “While the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has technologists to invent disruptive and innovative products, its spinout companies need makers to build them. This academy will provide startups with a workforce that can replicate products with quality standards and customer satisfaction in mind, using advanced techniques such as increased automation. The Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy project will fill a critical gap in our community and allow our companies to scale and grow right here in Illinois.”

Building the Workforce Pipeline Through Awareness

Another central focus of the AMTA will be cultivating a pipeline of students to meet the expanding high-tech workforce demands in Central Illinois. As part of the AMTA, an advanced manufacturing “maker space” will be developed as a vital outreach tool to engage K-12 students and promote advanced manufacturing career pathways.

Parkland’s long-standing partnership with Education for Employment (EFE) System #330 and regional school districts will enable collaborative recruitment efforts.

The college will also build on the strong network of community partnerships and recruitment activities developed through the college’s Support for Workforce Training (SWFT) program funded by the Illinois Workforce Equity Initiative (WEI) grant to reach underrepresented populations.

Whether or not the facility project is funded, Ramage says the college is committed to addressing the workforce pipeline.

“We are committed to continuing to serve manufacturers and help young people understand the rewarding, high-tech careers in manufacturing that exist locally and regionally,” said Ramage. “We don’t want individuals to miss out on the opportunities to pursue their goals and support their families because there is a lack of awareness of what it means to work in manufacturing.”

Meeting the Needs of Industry

The college will utilize a flexible training model to meet the needs of working students and employers, allowing them to access advanced training without the need to relocate. Ramage says that collaboration with the other community colleges in the region will be key and that the model opens opportunities for highly customized training and upskilling for the existing workforce as well as new students.

In order to design a comprehensive academy model that meets the needs of manufacturers, Parkland turned to local employers like Litania Sports Group to understand their needs for training as well as an expanded workforce pipeline.

“The prospect of having a Manufacturing Training Academy in our community is an investment in our regional workforce and a stabilizer for manufacturers in the area,” said Mary McGrew, VP of Human Resources at Litania Sports Group. “We struggle to find qualified workers to hold full-time jobs. We can send existing employees to the AMTA for skills enhancement to meet our changing technology. We can also work with the program to develop talent for students who want to start their career sooner, and less costly, than a four-year degree will allow. East central Illinois is home to some impressive manufacturing companies and the AMTA is a resource that can keep these companies competitive on a national level well into the future.”

The lessons learned from these focused conversations with employers provided some forecasting on future shifts in the industry and how workforce training will need to rise to meet that challenge.

“Manufacturing is a primary economic driver that requires responsive educational support,” said Dr. Justin Arnold, Director of Workforce Development for the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission. “Parkland’s AMTA proposed project will ensure the workforce is ready for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Manufacturing has radically transformed over the past generation. We need Parkland’s AMTA to help employers train our workforce in automation, coding, robotics, and other advanced skills.”

The placement of the AMTA at Parkland College will also have a broader impact on the regional economy. “The proposed Advanced Manufacturing Training Academy (AMTA) at Parkland College will expand opportunities for short- and long-term skills training, boost retention of manufacturers in our region, and attract more investment to Illinois,” said Carly McCrory-McKay, Executive Director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation.

“Focused on meeting the emerging training and workforce demands of our area manufacturers, the academy will leverage the strong assets of the Champaign County region to grow the manufacturing talent pipeline, provide hands-on training in advanced skills, and assist manufacturers from across the region in scaling emerging technologies. We look forward to working with Parkland College and workforce development partners across the state of Illinois to encourage more people to explore the possibilities of modern manufacturing, gain the skills necessary for careers in the 21st century, and retrain workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

State-of-the-Art Training Facility

If awarded, the Parkland Manufacturing Training Academy would be built as an expansion of the Parkhill Applied Technology Center, located on the northwest corner of the college’s campus. The Parkhill Applied Technology Center currently houses the college’s manufacturing and automotive programs, including an existing American Welding Society (AWS) Accredited Test Facility welding lab.

The 10,000 square foot AMTA, designed in collaboration with Urbana-based firm IGW Architecture, will include:

  • a robotics/programmable logic controllers (PLCs) lab outfitted with the latest technology and equipment

  • new tool and die training program and dedicated lab

  • two demonstration labs for both academic and community/youth programming, including the manufacturing “maker space”

  • newly equipped CNC machining lab to support advanced skills training

  • newly equipped CAD/CAM classroom

The college should learn later this spring whether it is awarded the grant and whether the facility project will move forward.

 

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New Apprenticeship Program Seeks to Fill Employment Gap

New Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program at Parkland

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   A new apprenticeship program taking place at Parkland College is looking for more students to train as surveyor and mapping technicians to fill a growing job demand.   

Developed in partnership with the Illinois Professional Land Surveyors Association (IPLSA), the first-in-the-nation Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program is a two-year, U.S. Department of Labor-recognized apprenticeship program in which apprentices train to become surveyor technicians. These technicians assist professional land surveyors in collecting information about boundaries, terrain and property lines.

Once admitted to the program, apprentices begin a 90-day, no fault probationary period in which the apprentice or the employer can terminate participation without repercussion.

Training consists of on-the-job learning blended with online coursework and 13 in-person labs provided by Parkland College. Apprentices are expected to take and pass the Certified Survey Technician (CST) Level I or Level II exam in order to complete the program.

During the program, apprentices are paid a minimum of $15 per hour. Upon successful completion, the apprentice is guaranteed employment and a minimum salary of $17 per hour. Program graduates also have the option to continue their education and become fully licensed surveyors. All instruction provided by Parkland College may be applied toward a bachelor’s degree.

Employers who participate in the Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program are required to pay for the education-related expenses. Employers are eligible to receive tax credits for their expenses through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) new Apprenticeship Education Expense Tax Credit Program. Employers must apply to DCEO to be eligible to take part in the tax credit program, which is currently capped at $5 million annually.

The inaugural class started at the end of August. IPLSA is currently taking applications for next year’s class, set to start at the end of August, according to IPLSA Executive Director Kim Robinson.

“It’s really exciting to see this come to fruition,” Robinson said. “This is something that we have been working on for two years now. We’ve heard from our members that they are facing serious workforce shortages. This program is designed to fill that void. Other states have heard about what we’re doing and now they’re looking into starting their own apprenticeship programs.”

“The apprenticeship program is off to a great start,” said Jeff Rohde, a surveyor at Willett Hofmann & Associates. “This program will give employees the knowledge they need to get up to speed faster.” Willett Hofmann Apprentice Travis Keller agrees. “The apprenticeship program has been a huge benefit for me. Our instructor does a very nice job helping us work through problems and is always available to provide guidance on anything that’s confusing."

The growing national shortage of both surveyors and technicians is expected to continue. The surveying profession is confronting a wave of retirements in the coming years, and both new surveyors and technicians will be needed to keep pace with demand.

Potential apprentices can upload their resume for free by visiting the apprenticeship page on IPLSA’s website. Employers can upload job postings for apprentices there as well.

IPLSA is a not-for-profit organization representing the interests of the surveying profession in Illinois. Their mission includes the advancement of the land surveying profession by promoting high standards of practice and conduct, by upholding the Illinois Land Surveyors Act and by supporting and encouraging members through continuing education, professional association, and the use of current technology.

To learn more about the Surveyor and Mapping Technician Training Program, please visit IPLSA's website at iplsa.org, or email apprentice@iplsa.org.

  

Parkland College to Receive Mercedes-Benz Car Donation

Automotive Technology program receives generous donation from Mercedes-Benz

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Parkland College's Automotive Technology program has received a generous donation from Mercedes-Benz USA in the form of a vehicle for use as an instructional aid within a recently established training partnership.

Parkland received the 2017 E300 luxury sedan in early August as part of the Mercedes-Benz Technician Training and Development Program. Mercedes-Benz USA expanded its training and development programs in recent years to combat the shortage of qualified automotive technicians in the US.

The donation will allow Parkland College's Automotive Technology and Motorsport students to complete up to 20 Mercedes-Benz certifications while in the program, according to Parkland Transportation Faculty Chair Jon Ross.

"The Transportation Programs at Parkland College are excited to be able to offer the training in cooperation with Mercedes-Benz USA," said Ross. "The donation by Mercedes-Benz USA reinforces the quality and reputation of our automotive training program. We have a long relationship with our local Mercedes-Benz service center, Sullivan-Parkhill Imports. This new partnership will enhance the opportunity for students to enter the workplace with additional certifications that our employers are looking for."

Students in the program will also be able to:

  • Receive exposure to innovative Mercedes-Benz technologies and products

  • Develop a skill set for success as a Mercedes-Benz Registered Technician and beyond

  • Earn a potential internship at a Mercedes-Benz dealership

  • Gain experience on the latest equipment in the industry

  • Receive basic to intermediate technical training from campus instructors

  • Complete the online course and in-dealer internship to earn their Registered Technician Certification

For more information on the Automotive Technology program and the Mercedes-Benz training program, please email jross@parkland.edu.

[Image from Sullivan-Parkhill Imports, Inc.]

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