The tables are turning in the career field, and the demand for career-focused training is higher than ever. Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City has been dedicated to providing accessible and relevant training programs for all through the construction of several new facilities. In spring of 2022, the new Advanced Technical Skills Institute officially opened, offering state-of-the-art equipment and spaces thoughtfully designed to host each specific technical program. Looking back over their first year of classes, there are several important benchmarks demonstrating the impact the new facility has had on enrollment and student success overall.
The newly renovated facility was previously a publishing house, and the site was strategically selected due to its location in the heart of the city along public bus routes. One of the main purposes identified at the beginning of the design process was to attract a greater number of students to expose them to skilled trade jobs early and understand the benefits and opportunities associated. Through creating an inclusive, accessible environment and equipping students with a cutting-edge facility that encourages collaboration, student enrollment increased by 17% since the facility’s opening in spring of 2022. The opportunities now available to students play a direct role in their potential for success in the future workforce, as they bridge the gap between the demand for skilled tradespeople and the available trained workers.
“The learning environment is much nicer than what we had before. We were able to expand welding capabilities and have the latest and greatest equipment. Our students are experiencing a much more robust curriculum than we were able to teach at our previous facility.” -Jeffrey Ullmann, Chief Facilities Officer at Metropolitan Community College
One of the most important aspects of the new learning environment is its accessibility to a broader demographic. Every individual should have equal opportunity to pursue their passions and gain technical skills empowering them to be successful in a career. Through selecting an accessible site, a wide range of programs and varying class times to accommodate non-traditional students and students with children, learners of all backgrounds, ages, abilities and cultures are drawn to the program, leading to a 5% increase in the minority student population. A diverse population enriches the overall learning experience for all by fostering understanding and collaboration between students with different cultural perspectives, and the social spine of the building offers a comfortable area for students to gather before or after class while mingling with students from adjacent programs. The building itself was delivered with 52% MWBE participation, demonstrating just how important it is to “practice what we preach,” so to speak.
The new learning environment has opened doors for an entire local generation of skilled workers, impacting not only students but the trade jobs they will soon fill upon graduation.
“The trades shortage is an issue MCC is continually trying to address. The quality of the new Advanced Technical Skills Institute has garnered much attention from local industry and community organizations. News about our beautiful new facility is traveling among community members and we are seeing new partnerships develop as a result,” says Dean of CTE and ATSI Site Administrator Lisa Bray says.
The impact of the new building goes beyond just the physical space. It has accommodated a more robust curriculum through larger learning labs and reached rural high school students through virtual broadcast training. Students in local districts, such as the North Kansas City School District, can partner with MCC to take online courses to prepare for graduation and taking the next step towards their career. Speed-dating style interviews with industry professionals have resulted in over 90% of students securing employment opportunities upon program completion. The comprehensive training and new facility are setting students up for success in a high-demand market while embracing diversity and providing accessible education for all.
Client Leader Albert Ray brings years of experience designing higher education facilities at Hollis + Miller Architects, an integrated architecture firm designing the future of learning environments. Share your thoughts on Facebook, LinkedIn or on Twitter @HollisandMiller.