Harper College President Ken Ender has been named to a White House committee working to solve the shortage of skilled workers for the manufacturing industry.
Ender joined other members of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee "2.0" for an inaugural meeting this week in Washington.
"This steering committee is about trying to ensure that we not only continue existing manufacturing, but bringing back some of the off-shored production and starting new manufacturing based on innovation," Ender said. "That's what will create new jobs."
Other members of the committee include the CEOs of Northrop Grumman, Caterpillar, Honeywell, Siemens, Dow and Alcoa, as well as the presidents and chancellors of Georgia Tech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Akron, University of California at Berkeley and University of Michigan. Ender is one of two community college representatives on the committee.
The panel was put together by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. The committee will look at programs to train more workers in advanced manufacturing skills and find ways to spur development of promising new manufacturing technologies. Last month manufacturing activity grew at the fastest pace since April 2011, according to The Institute for Supply Management. But a shortage of skilled manufacturing workers could slow growth and hurt the economy, experts say.
"It's imperative that we train workers for 21st century jobs and build that pipeline to our manufacturers," Ender said.
Harper's advanced manufacturing program is being considered as a model for training programs nationwide. Already Harper has received a $13 million federal grant to spread the program to community colleges across Illinois.
Developed in close partnership with area companies, Harper's program includes fast-track manufacturing certificates, paid internships and pathways to associate and bachelor degrees.
"We have 78 students in the program who all have educational plans that lead them through an associate degree and some to a baccalaureate, and all have or will participate in a paid internship," Ender said. "My early take is that it's going really well."