The position aims to connect local manufacturing workforce needs with the college’s growing manufacturing programs.
The associate dean for manufacturing, industry and technical studies is a position that has been tops on PPCC President Lance Bolton’s list since he heard from local manufacturers last year that they are in need of employees with technical skills.
James Kynor, who has private industry, higher education and workforce development experience, was chosen to fill the slot. He will oversee workforce development, education and training programs for students pursuing careers in trades and manufacturing.
His top goal, he said, is to find out what local manufacturers need and develop training programs to meet those needs.
Local manufacturers have said they’ve got the jobs waiting for PPCC students. In recent manufacturing forums, jointly sponsored by the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC and PPCC, manufacturers said they often have trouble finding machinists or welders, or employees with the skills to operate highly technical, expensive machinery.
Kynor said he hopes to grow the PPCC technical programs beyond traditional vocational education and get students into programs where they learn diagnostics and problem solving — skills that can transfer to a variety of manufacturing jobs, which are often high-paying jobs, he said.
“Manufacturing industry can bring a lot of wealth to the community,” Kynor said. “It makes sense to focus on manufacturing.”
In the past 12 years, El Paso County has lost 55 percent of its manufacturing jobs. In the 1990s, manufacturing represented 16 percent of the local economy. Today, it’s only 5 percent of Colorado Springs’ economy. A well-trained workforce could help bring industry back to region, he said.
“We are at a tipping point,” Kynor said. “We have the opportunity to come together and identify needs.”