Industry-supported training program graduates and employs second graduating class in fastest growing industry in the area; Next sessions to enroll in training program Nov. 18, Dec. 2 and Dec. 8
CONCORD, N.C. — 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.
The second cohort in this eight-week training program recently graduated, with the majority securing employment almost immediately.
“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 qualified, competent employees to fill these careers. And these are not just jobs for men.
“At this point, our classes are about half women and half men. There is absolutely no reason a woman cannot become a Certified Production Technician and find a great job in the manufacturing field – gender is simply not a barrier,” said Donna Ludwig, program coordinator for the Certified Production Technicians classes and a business services account manager for the College.
Everyone who has been admitted into the program has thus far completed the certification, except for one young woman who received an offer she couldn’t refuse to pursue a career in welding.
Selected participants enroll in the program at no personal cost, 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 training program does not merely scratch the surface – the material provided is detailed and extensive, which is especially helpful since most in the program do not have prior manufacturing experience.
Interestingly, while there has been a great deal of comradery and bonding among each class, the women in each class have bonded in particular.
“When we first started the class, the ladies sat together. It was nice to know we had each other’s support. We were also willing to speak up and ask questions, which I think ultimately put the guys at ease, too,” said Monica Barbee, a program graduate who secured employment before graduation.
Other female participants shared similar sentiments regarding the automatic bond they shared.
“I did feel like I had to prove myself a bit more,” said Charlotte Alexander, now employed with Agility Fuel Systems. “But we bonded together and have supported each other throughout the process.”
The program’s success speaks for itself. The vast majority of graduates’ secured employment prior to graduation, or within a few short weeks of graduating.
“I was concerned that not having prior manufacturing experience was going to hurt me when it came time to finding employment, but I was pleased to learn that employers weren’t dissuaded by lack of previous manufacturing experience,” said Alexander. “On every field trip we asked employers about that, and they weren’t concerned – they knew that this program would prepare us.”
The second class of graduates includes:
- Antonio Beatty
- Sherry Gobble
- Patrick Goodnight
- Samantha McManus
- Deshon Mills
- Monique Sharpless
- Lisa Solomon
- Phil Thomas
The next eight-week training program begins in January. Those interested must attend an orientation or Discovery Session:
- Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 5:30 p.m., Rowan-Cabarrus NC Research Campus building, Kannapolis, Room 115;
- Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 10 a.m., Cabarrus Business and Technology Center, 660 Concord Parkway North, Concord;
- Tuesday, Dec. 8 at 10 a.m., Rowan-Cabarrus NC Research Campus building, Kannapolis, Room 115.
Get details, including how to register for the session at www.ncmanufacturinginstitute.com. Dates, times, and locations of the Discovery Sessions are subject to change.
This coveted certification is validation to manufacturers that this individual has the skills and problem-solving abilities to be successful. 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.
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 the 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.
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.