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Under the pilot program, students in automotive technology programs can transfer among the five community colleges with no loss of credits or repetition of course work as they pursue their certifications and degrees.
“We want students to stay in Michigan, complete their degrees and work here,” said Fiona Hert, dean of GRCC’s School of Workforce Development and president of the Michigan Occupational Deans Administrative Council. “This is just one way we can try, as community colleges, to make students’ lives easier.”
GRCC President Dr. Steven C. Ender, along with the presidents of Delta, Lansing Community, Montcalm Community and Mott Community colleges, signed the automotive technology articulation agreement, which will allow students in automotive technology programs to transfer seamlessly among the five colleges. Automotive technology programs were chosen for the pilot because they already adhere to nationally recognized automotive technician training standards.
“Michigan’s auto industry is roaring back, and now, more than ever, our state’s future and economic vitality depend on a workforce with the necessary talents and training for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Nigel Francis, senior vice president of the Automotive Office at the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and senior automotive adviser for the state. “This agreement is both a great start in providing Michigan’s automotive tech students with the best possible path for success, and a stellar example of the public, private and academic collaborations that are vital to having the workforce we need to drive Michigan’s auto industry forward.”
The colleges reviewed the National Automotive Technician’s Education Foundation (NATEF) standards, instructional materials, assessments and training equipment in the automotive labs to determine course equivalencies. This process ensures that students will be successful in their program and will produce the talent that the state auto industry demands over the next five to 10 years.
“Students attending community colleges, at times, face employment and life changes that require them to move to other areas of the state, creating barriers to successful completion of their education," said Christine Quinn, Michigan Workforce Development Agency director. "The cooperation among these five schools will enable automotive technology students who need to relocate to continue their education and have a seamless transition in this high-demand field.
“Our goal is that this program will serve as a model for other fields of study, and that more community colleges in the state will participate, with the common focus on supporting student success.”
The five colleges will work together to develop a manual that may be used by other colleges to develop similar program agreements. The manual is expected to be completed by September.
Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.