LEWISTON, Idaho – Lewis-Clark State College has a long history of working hand-in-hand with industry in the LC Valley and throughout the region, and on Thursday college administrators announced the addition of two new programs to address specific workforce needs.
LCSC’s Technical & Industrial Division, which has worked closely with Clearwater Paper in developing the programs, will offer industrial maintenance/millwright technology and instrument mechanic technology starting in the fall of 2017. Both programs come at the request of local industry and will have a bachelor’s and an associate’s degree track, as well as an advanced technical certificate option.
The announcement comes on the heels of Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s designation of $10 million towards LCSC’s proposed Career and Technical Education (CTE) facility in the Lewiston Orchards, which he announced during his State of the State address last week, and is a testament to the college’s growing need for CTE expansion.
“A major role of LCSC is to educate and train students to meet the workforce needs of our region,” LCSC President J. Anthony Fernandez said. “These much needed programs are significant additions to our offerings and will directly support local manufacturers and other industries.”
The maintenance/millwright program includes advanced courses in welding, blueprint reading, mechanical systems maintenance, and trade skills. The instrument mechanic program will feature coursework in advanced and digital electronics, programmable logic controllers, advanced instrumentation, and programming.
The skills students will learn are in high demand at local manufacturers such as Clearwater Paper, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, and Idaho Forest Group as well as at companies across the Pacific Northwest.
“We are very pleased to be working closely with LCSC as they develop an exciting curriculum — an excellent workforce solution,” said Jay Backus, vice president of manufacturing at Clearwater Paper. “Idaho manufacturing businesses have seen a growing gap in the supply of trades professionals, which comprises some of highest paid positions at many companies.”
Internships will play a key role in both of the new programs as the goal, for both LCSC and local businesses, is for graduates to have the hands-on experience and skills necessary to go to work the day after they graduate.
“Millwright technicians are in high demand in our region,” said Mark Smith, chair of the LCSC Technical & Industrial Division. “Our students will gain real-work, real-life experience as they practice their diagnostic and repair skills. What a great opportunity for our students.”
With 97 percent of its CTE students already finding successful placement after graduation, LCSC has a strong reputation of keeping its programs in step with workforce demands. Administrators feel these two programs will add two more ways that students, perhaps ones who never even intended to enroll at college, can take a direct path to the career they want.
For Clearwater Paper, which has expressed a high interest in both employing such students and helping train them, the collaboration is a win-win.
“Building and training a strong pipeline of homegrown candidates from the LC Valley is simply good business in today’s competitive jobseeker marketplace,” added Donnie Ely, Clearwater Paper’s Lewiston mill manager. “We applaud LCSC for recognizing both the need and the fact that right here in Lewiston we have some of the best potential candidates for high-paying careers, and this training can open doors to great jobs both here in the Valley and around the world.”