AMTEC – An industry collaboration solution to the skills gap

June 27, 2017
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By Ashley Smith, Contributor, Ready To Work Business Collaborative

Why does anyone pursue higher education and training? To get a better job when they graduate. Unfortunately, there remains a chasm between education and industry: students often do not graduate with the skills employers look for, so those ‘better jobs’ are difficult to land. These days, the ROI on degrees is questionable at best, and meanwhile, employers are left wanting.

Wouldn’t it be ideal if industry and educational institutions could work in unison to develop a cooperative effort across college boundaries, state lines, and competing company interests to share best practices and resources to ensure student placement upon graduation? This is the premise for AMTEC, Automotive Manufacturing Technical Education Collaborative. AMTEC is a National Center for Excellence within the National Science Foundation that focuses on automotive manufacturing. AMTEC was designed to create and sustain an innovative, responsive and standards-based workforce development system that meets the automotive Industry’s skill requirements.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Danine Tomlin, Executive Director of AMTEC.  She stated that “This solution (AMTEC) came from doing site visits, holding meetings, listening to employers, and looking at colleges that already had workable apprenticeship programs and co-ops”. Furthermore, Toyota, Ford, BMW, Honda, Aisin, Denso and GM (to name a few) set aside their differences on the product side of the house and came together from multiple sites across the US to help research and develop core competencies that are presented within all of AMTEC’s content, online learning modules, and certification and diagnostic assessments. The multi-skilled technical competencies that AMTEC covers meets all the needs of the industries they work within. These graduates are in high demand.

AMTEC’s vision is a recognized collaboration of colleges and companies working together to strengthen the competency and global competitiveness of the automotive manufacturing workforce.

Their success has been overwhelming and the numbers are staggering. In 2013 they had 2 college partners and a total of 71 students utilizing AMTEC’s cutting edge, competency-based, online curriculum. 2017 boasts 55 active Community College partners, 17,568 students and over 53 active International companies who utilize AMTEC’s cutting edge assessments, online curriculum, and AMTEC’s Advanced Instructional Manufacturing Simulator sold through FANUC Robotics.

Moving forward, they are currently looking at ways to fund AMTEC through sustainability models and continue expansion into other industries. They have ventured beyond the Automotive Manufacturing Industry into Aerospace, Chemical, Food, Distribution and Logistics, and Tool Manufacturing.  For example, Boeing approached AMTEC because they did not have enough community college partners with mechatronics degree paths to meet the transforming needs of aircraft manufacturing.  Boeing visited AMTEC partner sites in South Carolina, Texas, and Kentucky to work with their Washington Seattle Center of Excellence to help shorten program implementation time. In response, one of AMTEC’s community college partners – which at the time lacked a robust path – implemented this fast-track program in short order.

More recently, Amazon has become AMTEC’s newest industry partner for talent development and recruitment of skilled technicians. Tomlin, who started as a partner college member at its inception in 2005 and now serves as Executive Director at the Kentucky Community Technical System, states that since she has been with AMTEC, the organization has always been and will remain 100% employer driven like every other major credentialing body (AWS, MSSC).

The National Governors Association (NGA) chose AMTEC as a model of National Best Practice.  In a recent case study, NGA states that “the AMTEC story shows that it is possible for governors to work collaboratively with industry, community colleges, and with each other to provide people with the opportunity to build their technical skills and ensure both America’s future prosperity and their own Economic Security.”1

1. (A Sharper Focus On Technical Workers, How to Educate and Train for the Global Economy, Martin, et. al. 2010).