Industry-funded training program emphasizes critical thinking and teamwork; Next session to enroll in training program on August 7 or August 12
CONCORD, N.C. — Charlotte Alexander didn’t think that a job in manufacturing was in her future. After years working in an office as an administrative professional, it didn’t seem like the right fit.
But here she is, one of 12 participants in an eight-week training program to become a Certified Production Technician (CPT), and about to begin work for one of the new manufacturing companies in the local area.
No industry in this area is creating jobs in larger numbers and growing faster than manufacturing. Local manufacturers like Alevo, 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,” said Robert Van Geons, executive director for RowanWORKS, Economic Development. “These are also well-paying jobs with benefits with the average annual salary of $68,887, for the 3,010 new manufacturing jobs created in North Carolina last year.”
The growth and popularity of these clean, high-tech jobs has led to a high demand for a qualified workforce.
Graduates of the eight-week, 160-hour training program will be ready to sit for a national exam to become a Certified Production Technician (CPT). 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.”
This coveted certification is validation to manufacturers that this individual has the skills and problem-solving abilities to be successful. Certainly the employers still perform training on the actual equipment they use and will acclimate the new employee to the company’s culture, while the grueling screening process has already taken care of.
There are several skills that all manufacturers wish to see when they hire a new employee. These companies and workforce development partners like the chambers of commerce and 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 first ever eight-week training program is currently in session and attendees are already seeing results and benefitting from the experience.
“The experience has been awesome. I am with a good group of people and we all have the same objective which is to increase our value to local employers for a chance of gaining employment,” said Alexander. “I am loving the program and there is a lot of important detailed information that we will need in the workforce. You can’t give up, get discouraged. We are here to better ourselves, we are here to work.”
Derrick Crook, a program participant who formerly worked in banking security, was looking to find his niche and his business degree was not leading him there. Crook learned about the program when a manufacturing firm he was applying to passed along the information. Now, he is flourishing in the program and excited for the next steps.
“Stan Honeycutt, the course’s instructor, has been great so far. He is very knowledgeable about business and manufacturing,” said Crook. “It’s a great career opportunity and an excellent resume builder.”
Another participant, Monica Barbee, moved to the area from Wilmington, N.C. for opportunities within the field of manufacturing. Barbee, an entrepreneur who ran her own business in Wilmington, saw an article in the paper and that it sounded like a great opportunity.
“It’s been very exciting. I can’t speak highly enough about Stan, the instructor. He gives us examples of real-life experiences and has instilled common sense information about workplace safety and working smart not hard,” said Barbee. “I’ve learned that you are there to be part of a team – my impression was that manufacturing involved work by individuals but I’m learning it’s much more of a team effort. For someone who has no experience in the field I am on a huge learning curve.”
Individuals interested in becoming a CPT will undergo a screening process that includes passing national Career Readiness tests and a drug screening. Some of the concepts emphasized in the training program are important safety practices, quality management, teamwork, timeliness, critical thinking and the ability to solve problems.
The Career Readiness tests are available through Rowan-Cabarrus Employability Labs. The first visit is free and the testing fee is waived for those interested in qualifying for the CPT scholarships. For more information, including Employability Lab locations and hours, please visit www.rccc.edu/resume.
The next eight-week training program begins August 24. For anyone interested in the CPT training program, attending an interest, or “discovery,” session is required. The next Discovery Session is scheduled for Friday, August 7 at 9 a.m. at the NCWorks Career Center in Salisbury with the last session to enroll in this program scheduled for Wednesday, August 12 at 2 p.m. at the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College North Carolina Research Campus building. Get details, including how to register for the session at www.ncmanufacturinginstitute.com.
The CPT 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.
“This is a way that we’re going to build a world class talent pool so we can keep people here,” said Patrick Coughlin, president and CEO of the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce.