NSHE Notes
by Chancellor Dan Klaich
August 17, 2015

At the start of this school year, a cohort of 28 juniors from Sparks High School have embarked on an educational journey along Nevada's first stackable certificate and degree pathway in advanced manufacturing. This pilot program creates a seamless and open pathway from high school to the workforce to college...and back to the workforce...and back to college...and back to the workforce.

With Tesla Motors, Inc. and Panasonic Energy Corporation of North America coming to Nevada, the demand for employees skilled in this sector has never been higher.

There are currently about 37,000 advanced manufacturing jobs in Nevada with a projected need for an additional 5,000 jobs within the next seven years.

Up until recently, students who wanted to work in advanced manufacturing had limited educational options in Nevada. While our institutions offered degrees and certificates, we did not provide our students with a seamless path from high school to college to the workplace in this field.

To help meet this demand, Frank Woodbeck, executive director of the Nevada College Collaborative, has been working with our institutions, the Governor's Office of Economic Development, Washoe County School District's Career and Technical Education Department, and some existing manufacturers to find innovative ways to address this challenge.

The Nevada Learn and Earn Advanced Career Pathway (LEAP), enables students to "stack" their learning experience within Nevada's public education system. Starting in high school, students in the program will combine community college classes with their high school courses and graduate with a diploma and most of their first year of college completed. They will be exposed to career opportunities in manufacturing as well as learn the foundational technical skills associated with advanced manufacturing. By high school graduation, these students will be prepared to earn an entry level industry certification (e.g., Manufacturing Technician 1).

After high school, students can enter the workforce or start their postsecondary training at Truckee Meadows Community College, Western Nevada College, or one of our four-year institutions.

At any point along this pathway, the students have several off ramps and on ramps where they exit the program to join the workforce and then return to college to earn another certificate, or complete an associate or bachelor's degree.

LEAP pathways (click to view larger image).

LEAP will also provide credit for prior work experience as well as accommodate pathways from multiple disciplines. The program was designed to be scalable and we hope to increase its scope to other employment sectors and replicate its success across NSHE in the months ahead. In short, LEAP provides us with a holistic approach to educating Nevada's citizens and preparing them for the highly demanding careers of the 21st century.