Speed Puts Community Colleges Front And Center

Ann McClure's picture
Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fitzpatrick Manufacturing Co. is a high-tech job shop, crafting super-precise parts for machines used in everything from robotics to aerospace to oil exploration. Macomb Community College lies a few miles down the road in this Detroit suburb.

Sometimes it's hard to tell where one ends and the other begins.

Fitzpatrick's 93 employees are constantly in and out of Macomb, taking classes with a tuition reimbursement from the company. And so frequently are Macomb instructors at Fitzpatrick's plant to offer lessons on the esoteric technology used there that the company built a classroom, now lined with about 250 diplomas and certificates employees have earned. Company president Kevin LaComb describes the school as concierge-style job training -- exactly what his workers need to keep a quality advantage over lower-cost competitors overseas.

"You tell them what you need, pretty much in a couple days, they have an instructor," he said. "Other people say, `This is what we're offering, but we can't deviate from what we do.' Macomb customizes just what we need."

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