Franken touts RCTC's new work training program during visit to Rochester
Sen. Al Franken (D-Minnesota) on Monday visited Rochester Technical and Community College’s Heintz Center where he spoke with various school leaders, educators, and local business owners about the school's new CTECH program.
CTECH, or Community Technical Education Center at Heintz, aims to close the skills gap that currently exists in Rochester.
A skills gap, as the name suggests, occurs when businesses can’t find enough workers that possess the specific skills set they require. The new CTECH facility, which will sit approximately 60 feet east of the Heintz Center, aims to combat this issue by providing high school and college students a space for hands-on learning in important STEM field studies.
Students will receive the chance to work directly with employers and acquire critical skills that will make them competitive in the job market. The program is also looking to provide opportunities for veterans and displaced workers as well. The goal is that students will be able to get both high school and college credit as a Rochester Public School student.
CTECH is the result of a series of partnerships between RCTC, Winona State University, Rochester Public Schools, and local businesses.
“We really appreciate those partnerships because that helps us to know what we’re writing as far as curriculum,” said Leslie McClellon, RCTC President. “This lets us connect to CTECH and with the students who we need to be . . . The conversations are robust, they exist, and we have to do that to make sure we provide what’s needed in the community.”
Rochester Public Schools Superintendent Michael Muñoz said he would like to see several other school districts come on board.
“We envision this being a regional program,” said Muñoz.
Franken is a strong proponent of closing the nation’s skills gap, advocating for legislation such as the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) that was signed earlier this month. He’s also working to build support for the Community College to Career Fund Act, which would build on the WIOA bill to provide opportunities for students at community at technical colleges.
“I thank the business and the Chamber for getting involved,” said Franken. “This is how it works — when a community works together, private and public. I’m proud to represent Minnesota because this [kind of collaboration] is so very Minnesota-like.”
The CTECH facility, which is being developed with $6.5 million in sales taxes, will open in the fall of 2016.
About Sydney Flottum: Sydney is a double major in graphic design and English literature at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She enjoys being back in Rochester for the summer and spending time reading, drawing, and catching up with friends and family. Currently, she’s attempting to teach herself how to play the accordion but is overwhelmed by all the buttons.
(Cover photo: Sydney Flottum / The Med City Beat)