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NC3 Staff Spotlight: Jeff Nielsen
January 18, 2021
How Hands-On Learners Thrive as Transportation Techs
January 19, 2021

Richard J. Daley College, Illinois

Please join us in congratulating NC3’s January 2021 School on the Rise recipient, Richard J. Daley College in Chicago, Illinois! 

Despite the limitations forced upon education worldwide in 2020, Richard J. Daley succeeded in growing its number of issued certifications by over 900%! 

With the passion and dedication of the instructors and administration, the college was able to add 10 new NC3 certifications to their repertoire in 2020 alone

Richard J. Daley College is an outstanding leader in Career and Technical Education in their region, and they’ve excelled in providing superior academic resources to their students and surrounding community.

Since becoming an NC3 Leadership School in 2019, Richard J. Daley has grown their Career and Technical Education Program at an incredible rate. In only 2 short years, they have added certifications in Lincoln Electric Welding, Greenlee, Snap-on, Dremel, and, most recently, they piloted the mikeroweWORKS Work Ethic Certification… offering a total of 27 NC3 certifications to their students! 

David Girzadas, Dean of Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, explains their decision to implement NC3 certifications at Richard J. Daley. He states, “We made this decision as a district and then it was up to our college to choose the certifications that were right for us and that we felt our employers would see benefit from. Our district and college recognized the benefit of validation of training and skills through the use of certifications such as these.” He adds, 

“Through training centers like ours and continuing to advocate for the manufacturing industry with professional grade equipment, training, and NC3 certifications, we are working to change the narrative of manufacturing to a high tech, problem solving role which will lead to attracting new people to the industry.”

With technical skills being in high demand in their region, Richard J. Daley College acknowledges that their students and regional employers both greatly benefit from industry certifications. He states, “Industrial Maintenance and CNC Machining are both in very high demand by employers. We frequently receive calls asking for students and for the ability to talk to students to advertise their companies and opportunities. Many of these companies have continued to hire and search for skilled workers through the pandemic.” He goes on to say, “The skills gap is real and employers are having trouble finding people with the skills they need. Industry representatives are starting to get involved at an earlier stage. They’re thinking and asking good questions about apprenticeships and internships to be able to attract, train and retain skilled people.”

David continues by explaining the value that industry-recognized credentials bring to their students. He says, 

“The value is that they are learning on tools and equipment that are known as standard in industry, are widely used, and could very well be the same tools they will be utilizing once they are on the job.” 

David adds to that by saying, “It is also very important that employers know that the skills students are learning at Daley College are going to benefit them once they come on board to contribute to their departments and their company’s success.”

In addition to preparing students for employment, David has also seen what a difference NC3 certifications make to boosting their students’ confidence. He explains, 

“NC3 certifications build student confidence in being able to perform the skills the certifications test for. Students need this confidence to walk into new situations and demonstrate what they can do for employers on day one. It also presents a challenge, which proves that they not only can perform the skill but know the safety and theory related that will help them apply the skill on the job.”

CJ Sikora, Advanced Manufacturing Department Chair, adds to that by explaining, “With NC3 certifications, we’re able to teach at our own pace. Someone coming in with no knowledge of the industry can accomplish so much by starting with the fundamentals of the craft. NC3 certifications have been really beneficial for students who didn’t always consider college to be an option for them.”

Richard J. Daley College has also partnered with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), a community organization that helps residents on Chicago’s South Side with leadership development, life skills, and job training. They’ve started a program called Weekend Warriors, which provides credentials of value for at risk youth who have been exposed to or are close to violence. David states, 

“The students in the Weekend Warrior Program are oftentimes the first member in their family to attend college and who never saw themselves going to college. This program allows them that opportunity. The idea is that it takes them out of an environment that might make them susceptible to violence or additional violence. The Lincoln Electric Welding Certifications were successfully integrated into the program this fall.”

Richard J. Daley certainly stands out amongst other institutions in their region! David explains, “our Center of Excellence focus area is Advanced Manufacturing. We have incredible faculty and an incredible new training center for them to excite students with opportunities in manufacturing careers. Our combination of faculty and facilities sets us apart and brings in students from all over the Chicago region to train in manufacturing with us. When people come to our center, they want to learn because of the amazing facilities and people.”

Richard J. Daley College has exhibited exceptional efforts in improving the lives of its students and the prosperity of their community. NC3 is honored to have them as an NC3 Leadership School and we’re proud to recognize them as NC3’s January 2021 School on the Rise! Congratulations!

Stay tuned for our next School on the Rise recipient in February 2021!

Questions about NC3’s School on the Rise? Please contact Erika Staackmann, Customer Success Coordinator, 847.533.6985,

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