Friday, September 12, 2014

Australian Educator Visits KCKCC-TEC

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ------ The Kansas City Kansas Community College-Technical Education Center hosted a visitor from down under Wednesday, comparing how the educational systems in the United States and Australia are both similar and different.

Ray Cadmore, a teacher and project officer at the Sunraysia Institute in Victoria, Australia is spending the next few weeks in the United States as a Fulbright Scholar. The Fulbright program is an international educational exchange program designed to increase the mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those from other countries.

Cadmore has spent the last five weeks in Winston-Salem, N.C. Kansas State University is hosting the Australian educator this week as he is visiting a variety of different educational institutions and businesses in the Midwest including KCKCC and Johnson County Community College as well as the K-State Olathe campus and the main K-State campus in Manhattan, Kan. Cadmore will return to North Carolina at the end of this week, where he will then travel to locations such as Boston, Mass. and New York before returning home in November.

“I am interested in seeing how community colleges go about working with industry and government to development new projects, especially those having to do with emerging technology,” he said. “This is the perfect place to have a look.”

Cadmore described the Sunraysia Institute as “a community college with a technical emphasis.” He started off his day at the KCKCC-TEC talking with director Rich Piper about the differences in education and working with industry officials to improve curriculum and programming. The discussion was followed by a tour of the TEC facility including visits in the construction technology, major appliance repair and electrical programs, among others.

Piper spoke about the increased emphasis on technical education programs, in part, because of the large number of shortages in many of these highly specialized fields – a similar problem to what is happening in Australia. He said while there are just more than nine million Americans out of work, there are 4.5 million job openings. A lot of these job openings, however, are for skilled laborers meaning someone cannot walk in off the street and start working.

“A lot of young adults here don’t know what a CNC operator is or what a welder does. Those shop classes are no longer available to them in high school,” Piper said. “What we have to do is ask all of our counselors (at the high school level) to give students all of their options. High school graduates do have other options available to them than just a four-year college.”

Piper said only six percent of high schools in the United States have a four-year  industrial arts program at the high school level. He said that is starting to increase due to the shortage of laborers. Piper said what needs to happen is to bring back the mentality of “Rose the Riveter and Wanda the Welder.”

“When they started to eliminate those shop classes (in high school), that is where you saw dropout rates of young men across all ethnic backgrounds skyrocket,” Piper said. “Some of our programs have 100 percent job placement. Businesses are searching for quality people, and they can’t expand their business without people to work.”

Cadmore was impressed with many programs in the United States as well as the Kansas City area that place a strong focus on technical careers and higher education  such as STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and PrepKC, a local organization that works to improve the education of students who live in the urban areas of Kansas City.

He said he also found it interesting how colleges throughout the United States work together to provide quality programs that help students become successful after they graduate.

“There is a national debate going on right now. We are constantly talking about the school shortage we have (for some of the technical fields). There is a total lack of schools in some areas,” he said. “Industry (in Australia) is saying the need more employees, it is just about getting more people to come in.”

For more information on KCKCC-TEC, contact Rich Piper at 913-288-7808 or by email at