A partnership between private sector employers and the State Technical College of Missouri is the model system for meeting workforce needs, utility industry representatives said.
State Tech’s Utilities Workforce Summit on Thursday night sparked conversations about how utility companies can help support technical college growth and pave the way for a workforce. most important work in Missouri.
“It is the benchmark for utility infrastructure across the country,” said Steve Sellenriek, President of Sellenriek Construction.
Sellenriek, who sits on the State Tech Board of Regents, has worked to bring together various representatives from the utility industry to become partners of State Tech and support its technical programming.
The college already has many partners, who often make donations or provide materials each year.
Sellenriek Construction, for example, provides $ 1 million in equipment annually to State Tech’s utility systems technician program, as does Ditch Witch and other partners.
State Tech’s Utility Systems Technician program was founded in 2019 and relies heavily on a partnership between State Tech, Missouri One Call, utility companies, and utility contractors.
The partnership led to the development of the Utility Technology Center, one of State Tech’s newest facilities that was only partially completed earlier this year.
The college and its partners are undergoing Phase B of UTC, which will add nearly 20,000 square feet of teaching space and include a broadband lab. This is expected to be completed by April 2022.
State Tech also plans to add what it calls Safety Village, a neighborhood of eight small buildings with underground utilities. State Tech and its utility company and contractor partners plan to use the 200,000 square feet to teach students and train employees to work on and around underground utilities for water, gas, electricity, petroleum and fiber.
State Tech chairman Shawn Strong said this should be completed by summer 2022.
Strong said Thursday’s summit was aimed at bringing together representatives from various utility companies to see how State Tech has grown and discuss how they can help the college train more students with the skills to utility industries.
Sellenriek said the event shows partners what their money is used for and opens the door for other schools to see how to develop similar partnerships.
Another college in Kentucky attended the summit to learn more about its duplication, Sellenriek said.
“We are bringing it out of the park compared to other schools,” Strong said. “We are definitely leading the country when it comes to public service programs. I would dare say we are one of the best in the country when it comes to the public service workforce. “
Sellenriek and other partners said schools like State Tech can help meet workforce needs, especially with the biggest infrastructure investment in decades coming from the federal government.
“Schools like this are needed,” he said. “We need this workforce.
With five consecutive years of record enrollments, State Tech is the fastest growing university in Missouri, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Its workforce has increased by 61% since 2016.
In its first year, 22 students were enrolled in the Utility Systems Technician program. On the first day of this year, 50 students were enrolled.