Western Nevada College’s Jump Start College program has diversified its offerings to include Career and Technical classes, and the results are already benefiting students. By diversifying its Jump Start College program in its second year, the benefits of early higher education opportunities are available to more high school students.
This fall, Career and Technical Education students from Carson and Dayton high schools are enrolled in Automated and Industrial Systems classes at WNC. They are being trained to pass the Manufacturing Technician 1 credential, which is endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Nevada Manufacturers Association, to develop more skilled workers in the region.
More importantly, they are the only high school students in the country being trained for the MT1 credential while still enrolled in high school.
“Our Manufacturing Technician program is full this semester, with students taking three classes to prepare for the Manufacturing Technician Level 1 exams,” said Emily Howarth, WNC’s professor of Electronics and Industrial Technology.
Howarth said the dozen high school students who are enrolled in these classes are providing a solid foundation for the program, which should ultimately benefit local manufacturers and related industries.
“These students tell me that every day they go back to their high schools and tell their friends about what they got to do in class,” Howarth said. “This is a program to prepare students to work in manufacturing and related technical fields; it’s not easy, and there is a large body of class work to complete, as well as many skills to be learned and practiced.”
The venture into college academics could pay off sooner rather than later, for these high school students.
“The students will be prepared to pass their MT1 (test) by the time they graduate from high school, and I expect that they all will have earned it by June,” Howarth said. “The credential demonstrates work readiness and the ability to use information to solve problems, so the value to the credential comes when the student is ready to step into the workplace.”
Considering there’s an absence of young adults employed in manufacturing jobs in the region, this new program could help change that trend and create new opportunities for these students. With the support of local manufacturers, Howarth believes it’s a fabulous starting point.
“I spend a great deal of time with the Jump Start students every week talking about manufacturing and related career fields so that students see what the work environment looks like and what the jobs actually do,” Howarth said. “They have had little reason or opportunity to look into or think about these diverse opportunities in the past, and now they are seeing a whole world of careers opening up in front of them. They will be meeting with local employers and getting to know people from our community who work with a variety of industrial technologies.”
Additional benefits of the CTE Jump Start program are tuition savings and being integrated into classrooms with typical college students.
“We are very excited to be able to provide graduating seniors with the opportunity to earn a nationally recognized career certificate in Applied Industrial Technology,” said WNC Dean of Student Services John Kinkella. “This is a direct, tangible benefit to these students and their families and we are delighted to be able to help them get on track for a career right out of high school.”
The 12 students from Carson and Dayton high schools enrolled in the Jump Start College make up the WNC’s “Track C” pathway. WNC plans to offer “Track C” to construction students starting next fall, providing them with skills to become a construction crew leader upon high school graduation.
“I’d like to see us expand that and work with the high schools in our service area to the extent possible so that their programs can dovetail into Western Nevada’s offerings,” said Dr. Georgia White, WNC’s new CTE director. “It will certainly give them a head start in earning a postsecondary degree as well as being able to get out into the workforce. If they get a certificate along the way, they could be working toward an associate degree while they’re earning that income, and they’d be in great shape.”
Kinkella said next year Lyon and Storey County school districts, as well as Oasis Academy of Fallon, intend to offer “Track C” to their students.
Also, a “Track B” pathway has been implemented at Carson High School to accommodate students who didn’t qualify for WNC’s original Jump Start College — “Track A.” “Track B” includes remedial math and English instruction, as well as communications and Strategies for Academic Success classes, so students are on track to start college the following fall.
The original Jump Start program is a partnership between WNC and western Nevada high schools. It provides high-achieving junior and senior students the opportunity to achieve up to a college associate degree prior to graduating from high school.