Enterprise Minnesota Magazine - June 2012
HELPING MANUFACTURERS GROW PROFITABLY
Fast-Tracked Talent Pool
Minnesota State University-Moorhead’s Operations Management degree program responds to manufacturing’s qualified worker gap.
Minnesota State University-Moorhead Assistant Professor Ken Kart teaches an Operations Management course at North Hennepin Technical College.
For manufacturers looking to fill open management positions, Pam McGee says the right people for the jobs may be their current employees.
McGee is program coordinator and an assistant faculty member of Minnesota State University-Moorhead’s Operations Management 2+2 program, a fast-track degree program that helps two-year technical degree graduates to complete a Bachelor of Science degree in Operations Management in just two years. Its goal is to give students with an existing technical background the education they need to lead the operations of a business—without having to start over as college freshmen. The program accepts a “block transfer” of each student’s technical degree credits, meaning it applies all of them towards the baccalaureate degree.
“We take employees that have a two-year technical degree, and over time, they can be built into people who could potentially be general managers, operations managers and directors,” says Ken Karr, assistant professor of Operations Management. “I tell students, ‘you’ve [already] got a degree that’s going to get you a job. If you come into our program, we’ll get you promoted. We’ll give you the tools and skills you need to move up the corporate ladder.’”
Karr says approximately half of the 100 or so students in the program have just completed their technical degrees. The others are working adults returning to school to advance their education, many with support from their companies. Courses focus on the business side of manufacturing and include accounting, project management, process leadership, technical report writing, cost analysis, and production and inventory management, among others. Students can opt to take courses in person at MSU-Moorhead or North Hennepin Technical College, or online, or both.
McGee believes program graduates are uniquely qualified for industry leadership positions because they have both technical and business education. “They are able to think about the business a little more broadly than someone who just has a technical degree. So, they’re not just technical, and they’re not just management. They’re both of those together,” she says. Companies see the value in program graduates, too. “I have more companies contacting me right now than I have graduates that can fill their need,” McGee says.
Karr agrees, and says the program is beneficial not only for manufacturers seeking qualified new hires, but also for manufacturers that want to build their bench strength as current managers retire, without having to look outside their organizations.
“The manufacturing employers get exactly what they’re looking for: people with the skills and the knowledge to take over for mid-level management and above. They get people that have both the technical skills and the management capability so that they can move the business forward in the future. I think it hits a home run everywhere,” he says.
To learn more about Minnesota State University-Moorhead’s Operations Management degree program, visit http://www.mnstate.edu/om/bsinoperationmanagement.aspx
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