Everyone knows that there is skilled workforce shortage. This is a local as well as national problem, and we at Monroe County Community College are attempting to do something about it. One solution was to create an advanced manufacturing “boot camp” for adult learners who were attempting to earn a GED at the Learning Bank or the Adult Centers in Bedford and Milan.
Our first Boot Camp was in 2017. We started with 19 students and surprisingly, 18 completed the entire six-week program. These individuals received soft skills training as well as training in CAD, Electronics, Welding, CNC Machining, and Robotics. The boot camps are free for the students thanks to a grant received from the Greater Ann Arbor Region (GAAR) Prosperity Initiative.
Many who enrolled had no clue what they wanted to do with their lives and were still struggling to earn their GEDs. Upon completion, some enrolled in college, others were offered employment, and almost all earned their GED certificates.
We have since offered subsequent boot camps with fewer students. Someone mentioned yesterday that the boot camps are the only attempt we make at MCCC to reach our local adult population. While some are critical of the boot camp model, this grant is to provide opportunity for the less fortunate in our community and to make a difference in their lives, even as we at MCCC make our contribution to local economic development by providing training for more skilled workers. So, here is a quick story about the impact these boot camps are having on students, the College, and community.
Yesterday, Alicia Harrell, a 43-year-old African-American female who completed the boot camp in November of last year stopped by to see me to tell me her story. She began by thanking me profusely for conceiving of the boot camp concept and for giving her an opportunity to be a part of it. When she enrolled in the boot camp, she had no employment, no GED, and no money. She completed the boot camp, after which she earned her GED and enrolled in our Welding 115 class. Upon completion of the class, she was hired by Sunli Steel as a welder/fabricator. She is now enrolled at MCCC in our associate degree in welding program, is gainfully employed, and is well compensated. That is success!
This is why we do what we do! Making a difference in people’s lives by enriching and transforming their lives through such experiences. This is the story of only one student, but there are so many more who have been positively impacted by the opportunities that programs such as our boot camps provide.