Training: Tech Colleges Return, Go Virtual

“Essential” training, including electromechanics, returns to Lakeshore Technical College

Certain training courses deemed “essential”, including electromechanics, are returning to in-person methods at various spots across the U.S., specifically in states that have eased stay-at-home orders, such as Wisconsin, home to Lakeshore Technical College.

The college, founded in 1967 and based in Cleveland, Wisc., now has a network of six locations throughout southeast Wisconsin and northeast Illinois.

First responders, EMTs, acute healthcare workers and criminal justice specialists are always in high demand, even before you think “now more than ever”. Places that specialize in training these individuals include LTC, and the fact that electromechanics is considered among the essential skills is encouraging for the industry. The school provides a range of training options; including fire medic classes and a burgeoning wind energy technology program:

When COVID interrupted the academic year, many who were close to completing their education found themselves in limbo, but the Sheboygan branch of LTC’s Dean of Public Safety and Energy, Ryan Skabroud, recently indicated optimism about getting those students through their face-to-face training and completing their certifications. Some, like Medical Assistant students who returned to campus April 27th, will be hired as soon as they complete their coursework in early June, WHBL Wisconsin reported May 7.

However, while some college systems are easing back in to an in-person dynamic, others are taking the more cautious approach, even in states that have eased stay-at-home orders, like Georgia.

Georgia Technical College System expands online program. While some students have the advantage of returning to face-to-face interaction for significant parts of training such as examinations, others are contingent on state reopening guidelines and must resort to online measures. The Technical College System of Georgia, for instance, is expanding its online program opportunities as well as offering free professional development and online training courses to “provide more Georgians the flexibility to enhance their skills during this time,” TCSG said May 10.

Essential program courses have resumed at LTC’s Cleveland campus as allowed under the Safer at Home Order, the college confirmed in a May 7 press release.

First responder training academies have been taking place since April 23. “With the increasing need for additional emergency responders during this pandemic, we are optimistic about getting students who are close to graduating back on campus to complete their face-to-face training,” said LTC Dean of Public Safety and Energy Ryan Skabroud, who also serves as commander of the college’s Incident Management Team.

“Our criminal justice and emergency medical technician (EMT) students are always in high demand. Some already had conditional employment offers or were affiliated with essential providers before COVID-19 hit, so the ability to complete their training on schedule is critical,” Skabroud added.

Also in demand are acute healthcare workers. According to Dr. Christopher Schatz, dean of LTC’s health and human services, “Local healthcare providers in need of our students are expediting hiring processes on their end so they can get our students hired as quickly as we can graduate them.”

Schatz said nursing students were far enough into their program before the pandemic hit, so are able to finish their courses online, and graduate on time. Medical assistant students returned to campus April 27. Schatz anticipates them completing their required clinicals in area health care settings in early June, which would allow them to graduate and enter the workforce at that point.

The mechatronics apprenticeship, CNC technician/machine tool, and electro-mechanical program students returned to campus this week. Welding students will return the week of May 11. Face-to-face training in programs related to critical infrastructure and food manufacturing can also resume on campus.

According to Skabroud, the college has implemented multiple measures to ensure the safety of all those on campus. Strict adherence to physical distancing, use of personal protective equipment, and stringent cleaning and hygiene procedures are all in place in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Wisconsin Department of Health Services protocols. All essential courses being run are limited to no more than eight students and one instructor in a single room.

Others, such as Mechatronics, CNC Techs and electromechanical students will be needed to maintain critical infrastructure and food manufacturing, and those classes resumed May 11th.

The college has an enrollment of over 10,000 students each year on average.

LTC is also a nationally recognized technical college. The college was ranked the #2 two-year college in the nation for adult learners by Washington Monthly, the #17 trade school in the nation by Forbes, #11 in the nation for two-year college educational outcomes by WalletHub.com, a top-150 two-year college for the fifth consecutive time by the Aspen Institute, and a top 10 Bellwether Award finalist.

Approximately 800 students graduate from LTC each year, and LTC’s associate degree graduates earn a median salary of $47,800* per year. In addition to the Cleveland campus, LTC serves students in Manitowoc and Sheboygan, and offers classes at additional sites throughout the district.

Skabroud emphasized that physical distancing including limited class size, use of PPE, and stringent cleaning and hygiene rules are in place, and everyone will be wearing masks and subject to daily temperature checks.

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