LEWISTON, Idaho – Lewis-Clark State College has received a grant of nearly $1.3 million, the largest grant issued to the college to date by the Idaho Workforce Development Council, to renovate and repurpose the Wittman Complex and Mechanical Technical Building (MTB) on campus, college officials have announced.
The Workforce Development Industry Sector Grant, which totals $1,289,050.55 from the Idaho Workforce Development Training Fund, will allow for the purchase of industry-related equipment, instructional space renovations and the creation of a Workforce Training allied health hub on campus. The changes will increase capacity for students in the collision repair technology, diesel technology, and welding technology programs to help meet industry needs.
“We are incredibly appreciative of this support and know the state-of-the art upgrades to facilities and equipment these funds will make possible, will allow us to serve not only more students, but serve them and our industry partners better,” LC State President Cynthia Pemberton said.
When LC State completed construction of its Schweitzer Career & Technical Education Center in 2020, the college moved seven of its 10 Technical & Industrial Division programs to the new site, leaving collision repair, diesel and welding on campus in the Wittman Complex and Mechanical Technical Building.
Current capacity in the Wittman Complex is 26 students for the diesel program and 10 for collision repair, and both programs have waiting lists. The renovation will allow the college to expand the programs, meet safety requirements, and also create an enhanced learning environment with more work bays, training stations and ADA compliant lab space.
According to Department of Labor statistics, the current number of collision repair jobs needed in the region are 84 positions annually, while the demand for diesel service technicians and mechanics is expected to grow about 12 percent through 2024. LC State has 100 percent employment placement rates for its diesel technology and collision repair technology graduates.
Renovation of MTB will allow for more room for the welding program labs and industry-standard training. The Department of Labor statistics show there are 508 regional welding job openings annually and the welding technology program also has a 100 percent job placement rate.
LC State offers bachelor’s degrees, two-year associate degrees and two- and one-year certificates in diesel technology, welding technology, and collision repair technology. All programs have technical and advisory committees comprised of industry partners who provide critical feedback on curriculum development, workforce training needs, and the latest technology used. These committees play an integral role in ensuring LC State programs align with the workforce needs in both the state and region.
The MTB renovation will also provide space for Workforce Training allied health programs to operate on campus in proximity of the college’s Nursing & Health Sciences degree programs and create an allied health occupations hub in the building. Currently, Workforce Training allied health classes are held in a variety of locations, including the Workforce Training office in north Lewiston away from campus. LC State and its Workforce Training program provide associate degrees and licensure/exam preparation for medical assistants, paramedics, physical therapy assistants and dental hygiene. Workforce Training also offers certification in pharmacy technician, dental assistant, family home provider, phlebotomy, and CPR.
LC State is located in a medically underserved region, according to the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare, and health care professional shortages exist in medical care, dental, and mental health facilities. As a result, LC State health science programs have strategically collaborated with regional health care providers such as hospitals and clinics, to create a pipeline for graduates, especially in high need counties. Adding Workforce Training classes in this mix will help the region and the state fill health care worker shortages and students in these workforce training programs will be under the instruction of professionals in their fields.
“As a college, we are working with employers in the region in all areas of health care to help determine and define their needs,” said LC State CTE Dean Jeff Ober, “so that we can create the training that will help them obtain quality, trained employees ready to help them meet the needs of the community.”
Avista Utilities, Western States Equipment, Jetco Machine & Fabrication, Kenworth Sales Co., and AHC of Lewiston were among the community partners who supported LC State’s grant request to the Idaho Workforce Development Council.
The Idaho Workforce Development Council, an independent office under the Governor, was established in October 2017. The goal of the council is to champion the development and implementation of a statewide, strategic workforce development plan that meets industry needs now and in the future. Information on Idaho Workforce Development Training Fund grants can be found here: https://wdc.idaho.gov/workforce-development-training-fund.
The estimated costs of the entire renovation project for the two buildings is $1.95 million. LC State also received $370,000 from the Department of Public Works to support the project.
For more information on the collision repair technology, diesel technology, or welding technology programs, visit www.lcsc.edu/ti. For information on LC State’s Workforce Training program, visit www.lcsc.edu/workforce-training.