Experts expect the demand for employees in professional, scientific, and technical service fields to rise nearly 30% over the next five years. On-the-job training and apprenticeship programs will play an important role in addressing this need, but students must master both theory and application.
It’s up to higher-education administrators and faculty to develop standards to prepare technical workers for the future while ensuring that a technical education is a well-rounded engaging experience, according to Jeff Ylinen, provost of Dunwoody College of Technology, Minneapolis, MN, in a column for eCampus News.
“In more standard educational models, students first build a foundation of theory and then, later in their degree program, apply that theory through specific coursework and internships,” Ylinen wrote. “We’ve found that by flipping this model and immersing our students from day one in real-world environments and workplace situations, they more quickly develop a body of experience and contextual understanding of specialist technical environments that make the learning of theory far more relevant and successful.”
On-campus training centers can provide the hands-on learning students need to prepare for apprenticeships and employment. Such centers do require an investment from the institution, but the return is students who gain valuable experience and meet industry expectations.
“Creating opportunities for students to not only become familiar with emerging materials and new technologies, but also to physically work with them and understand their properties and parameters, creates a far greater degree of knowledge currency and job readiness postgraduation and increases students’ excitement over the direction their chosen fields are pursuing,” Ylinen wrote.