Lakeland, LTC combine on a great idea

A GOOD TECHNICIAN IDENTIFIES a problem, devises a feasible solution and puts that solution in place to solve the problem.

Two institutions of higher learning in our area – Lakeland University and Lakeshore Technical Institute – have joined together to do just that for a problem that’s felt statewide and across the nation.

There is an increasing demand for workers with technical skills, in traditional jobs and in industries that one might not think of as technical.

High schools are attempting to meet that growing need with an increased emphasis on technical education and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) teaching.

But the problem is that, to teach such needed skills and knowledge, good qualified teachers are needed – and are in short supply.

The Howards Grove School District learned that recently when they tried to fill a tech ed teacher position and were only able to find a few qualified candidates after a long search.

“The biggest need in tech ed is teachers who can meet the needs of local employers,” Howards Grove School District Superintendent Chris Peterson explained.

Many local school districts have entered into partnership with local industries to create programs to encourage STEM learning and to provide needed equipment and support for technical education classrooms.

That still leaves the problem of the shortage of good teachers and that’s where Lakeland and LTC are stepping in.

Lakeland has added a technology education bachelor’s degree program to its offerings to help address the shortage. LTC is part of the program, with students seeking the degree taking 30 core technology credits at LTC, learning on state-of-the-art equipment.

Lakeland becomes only the fourth university in the state to offer a technology education teaching degree – and the only one in this area. Officials at the university are enthusiastic about the program and hope to expand it across the state in the future.

In addition to training new students to become technical education teachers, the two schools envision it reaching out as well to current teachers looking to move into a new area of education as well as professionals in technical industries interested in sharing their knowledge in training future teachers.

The program will be a welcome answer to the need for technically-proficient workers – and the educators to teach them properly – that is only going to grow in the future in the county, the state and the nation.

The private and public sector have already shown they can work together well and effectively to address the need for trained workers. Now, two prominent local institutions of higher education are joining together in an innovative program designed to further address that need effectively as well.

Problem identified, solution in place – it’s as simple as that.

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