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RCCC graduates third class from North Carolina Manufacturing Institute

CONCORD — Rowan-Cabarrus Community College announced the recent graduation of the third class of certified production technicians from the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute.

Graduates with little-to-no manufacturing experience are securing employment through this no-cost eight-week training program, a college news release said. As part of the initiative, they have gained knowledge and skills in safety, quality assurance, manufacturing processes and maintenance awareness.

Those who haven’t considered manufacturing as viable career option or those with no experience in the field can enter the program.

“This program is for anyone who wants a quality job – it doesn’t matter what your background is, it matters what your future is,” said Craig Lamb, vice president of corporate and continuing education at Rowan-Cabarrus.

At this point, four of the seven graduates have accepted offers of employment, with others waiting to hear back after completing the final round of the interview process. In total, 22 of the program’s 27 graduates have secured full-time employment.

“I will take all the advice given to me and apply it every day,” graduate Stephanie Proctor said. She is now employed by Agility Fuel Systems. “I am a much better and more intelligent person and employee because of this experience.”

Even accounting for the recent layoffs at Freightliner, no industry in this area is creating jobs in larger numbers and growing faster than manufacturing. Local manufacturers like Perdue Foods, S&D Coffee and Agility Fuel Systems have partnered with the Rowan and Cabarrus chambers of commerce and economic development leaders and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College to build a training program designed to prepare applicants for jobs in the high-tech and growing field of manufacturing.

“Manufacturing jobs are among the fastest growing in the nation. In fact, 13.7 percent of private-sector jobs are in manufacturing,” Robert Van Geons, executive director for RowanWORKS Economic Development said. “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. 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,” Lamb said. “Individuals train 20 hours per week for a total of eight weeks. Upon completion, they are qualified for 90 percent of manufacturing jobs in our area.”

Hiring managers from the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute partner companies are given the graduates’ resumes and are invited to the college campus to meet the graduates for a preliminary interview to begin their search for employment. Follow-up interviews and offers are often a direct result of this event.

The third class of graduates includes Steve Brewer, Angela Buchanan, Brian Matheny, West Odell, Stephanie Proctor, Liz Severt and  Wendy Vandevere.

“These four women and three men are outstanding and all will be dependable, reliable, and exemplary employees,” said Mark Seifel, an instructor for the class with over 30 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 challenged, helped and supported each other when preparing for the four individual Manufacturing Skill Standards Council assessments that they were required to pass in order to become a fully certified production technician.”

The fourth class is currently underway, but the next eight-week training program begins in February. Anyone interested in the training program is required to attend an orientation or Discovery Session. The next Discovery Sessions will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 2, at 9 a.m. at the college’s Cabarrus Business and Technology Center in Concord, and on Monday, Feb. 8, at 2 p.m. at NCWorks Career Center in Salisbury. Get details, including how to register for the sessions, at www.ncmanufacturinginstitute.com.

The certified production technician program is part of a larger effort called the North Carolina Manufacturing Institute, which aims to build a clear and achievable pathway for people to acquire skills in order to access good manufacturing jobs in our local community, as it is specifically designed to link and leverage the existing assets of Rowan and Cabarrus counties to solve a growing gap between regional job seekers and available positions.

The initiative was conceived during meetings with leaders from Rowan and Cabarrus counties from both chambers of commerce, economic development authorities, the Centralina Workforce Development board and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College.

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