On Monday, Aug. 26 Anoka Technical College opened its doors for the start of the 2019-2020 academic year to more than 1,700 students, an increase of 7.1 percent from fall 2018.
"Technical college is not a second choice. It’s a viable and exciting option, and an important one for our communities,” said Kent Hanson, president of Anoka Tech. “To see so many students returning to campus or getting started with a technical education makes me proud of the community we’ve built.”
Over the past five years, Anoka Tech has made big investments to help improve the college and prepare our students for the workforce: a new Surgical Technology lab and classroom space; upgraded Automotive and Machining labs; a significant investment in state-of-the-art equipment for the Machine Trades program; and a new high-tech simulation lab for the Nursing program.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development recently released regional data for high-demand occupations. On the list were multiple programs available at Anoka Tech: Licensed Practical Nurses, Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics, Emergency Medical Technicians and Paramedics, Electricians, Machinists, Computer User Support Specialists, Industrial Machinery Mechanics and Health Information Technicians.
Programs supporting these industries are seeing high enrollment and Anoka Tech continues to innovate to help meet the need by adding new programs: Health Unit Coordinator, Information Technology (IT) Support, Landscape Entrepreneurship, Office Communication Specialist, Office Software Specialist, Paramedic, Quality Inspector, Quality Technician, Robotic and Electronic Engineering Technology and this spring, Laser and Robotic Welding.
To accommodate demand for some existing programs, Anoka Tech also added additional sections in Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Health Information Management & Medical Coding, Machine Trades, Construction Electrician and Administrative Office Specialist programs.
Beyond, the college’s financial investments and expanded programming, Anoka Tech has worked to introduce more potential students to career technical education through partnerships with schools, businesses and more.
Through these partnerships, students are seeing opportunities for careers in high-demand industries like healthcare, manufacturing, IT and construction; and recognize the value of career technical education and an associate’s degree.
One example of this commitment to partnerships in the community, is through the Manufacturing Career Intent Signing Day, a collaboration with the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce. During this year’s third annual event, more than 80 students from area high schools including the Secondary Technical Education Program (STEP), Anoka-Hennepin Technical High School, Elk River High School and St. Francis High School gathered alongside local government officials, manufacturing company representatives, and faculty and staff from Anoka Tech to express their intent to commit to education and careers in manufacturing within Anoka County.
“The Manufacturing Career Intent Signing Day event connects the community of students, manufacturers and educators to early relationships that lead to meaningful careers for students and solutions to larger issues like workforce shortages for manufacturing,” shared John LeTourneau, director of manufacturing for the Anoka Area Chamber of Commerce.
Those job opportunities expand beyond manufacturing. In 2017, six Anoka Tech programs had a 100 percent job placement rate for graduates: Architectural Technology, Community Social Services, Construction Electrician, Medical Assistant, Supervisory Management and Surgical Technology.
“We’re excited to welcome students back to campus, because we know that when they finish at Anoka Tech, great jobs are waiting for them,” said Hanson.
This was the case for Therese Minwegen who graduated from the EMS program in 2017 and returned this fall to be part of the first class of Anoka Tech’s new Paramedic Degree program. “ Since taking EMS courses from Anoka Tech, I have been working for over a year on an ALS (Advanced Life Support) ambulance as an EMT. I am employed by North Memorial Health and work in their Forest Lake region,” shared Minwegen. “I enrolled in Anoka Tech's new paramedic program and am very excited to see what the future holds.”
Anoka Tech is proud to be a catalyst in preparing these students for their futures and being a steward of partnerships with local businesses that create career opportunities for each one.