Community college has first graduating class of production technicians

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 24, 2015

The first class of Certified Production Technicians recently graduated from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. The 12 graduates of this eight-week training program, part of the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute initiative, have learned about safety, quality assurance, manufacturing processes and maintenance awareness.

“This group of students was outstanding and all will be dependable, reliable and exemplary employees,” said Stan Honeycutt, instructor for the first class with over 25 years of manufacturing and business experience.

“I admire them for their punctuality, dedication for the full eight-week training period, and their teamwork. They all helped and supported each other when preparing for the four individual Manufacturing Skill Standards Council assessments that they are required to pass in order to become a fully certified production technician.”

At this point, eight of the first 12 graduates have secured employment. Four landed jobs immediately; the others found employment within just a few weeks.

“Manufacturing jobs are among the fastest growing in the nation. In fact, 13.7 percent of private-sector jobs are in manufacturing,” said Robert Van Geons, executive director for RowanWORKS, Economic Development. “These are also well-paying jobs with benefits, with an average annual salary of $68,887.”

The growth and popularity of these clean, high-tech jobs has led to a high demand for a qualified workforce.

“It’s very exciting. The instructor provided examples of real-life experiences and has instilled common sense information about workplace safety,” said Monica Barbee, a program graduate who had secured employment before graduation.

Selected participants enroll in the program for free, thanks to support from local manufacturers.

“Our scholarship fund, financed by local employers, ensures that we can offer this training at no cost to the individual. They also plan to hire many of the graduates,” said Craig Lamb, vice president of corporate and continuing education at Rowan-Cabarrus. “Individuals will train 20 hours per week for a total of eight weeks. Upon completion, they will be qualified for 90 percent of manufacturing jobs in our area.”

The employers will still provide training on the actual equipment they use and will acclimate the new employee to the company’s culture, but the screening process has already been taken care of through the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute.

There are several skills that all manufacturers wish to see when they hire a new employee. These companies and workforce development partners that include the chambers of commerce, economic development leaders and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College have come together to develop a short-term training program that prepares students to work in a high-tech manufacturing environment.

The 12 graduates are: Monica Barbee, Elvira Boger, Charlotte Alexander, Barry Shoemaker, William “Frank” Hargett, James Goodnight, Patrick Swercewski, Sebastian Bowden, Jerome Jennings, Darren Custer, Derrick Crook, John Caldwell.

The next eight-week training program begins Oct. 19, with another following in January 2016. Anyone interested in the training program is required to attend an orientation or Discovery Session:

  • Wednesday, Sept. 30 at 5:30 p.m., Rowan-Cabarrus CBTC Campus, Concord, Room 9281
  • Monday, Oct. 5 at 5:30 p.m., Rowan-Cabarrus North Campus, Salisbury, Room 4133
  • Thursday, Oct. 8 at 3 p.m., Rowan-Cabarrus N.C. Research Campus building, Kannapolis, Room 115
  • Thursday, Nov. 12 at 1 p.m., Rowan-Cabarrus N.C. Research Campus building, Kannapolis, Room 115
  • Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 5:30 p.m., Rowan-Cabarrus N.C. Research Campus building, Kannapolis, Room 115

Get details, including how to register for a session at Dates, times, and locations of the Discovery Sessions are subject to change.

The Certified Production Technician program is part of a larger effort called the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute, which aims to build a pathway for people to learn skills to get good manufacturing jobs in the local community.

Partner organizations in the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute had first dibs on the graduates and met them at a personalized interview fair. In preparation for that, graduates had mock interviews with Rowan-Cabarrus interviewers.