PLATTSBURGH — Aiming to provide a clear pathway to a manufacturing career, stakeholders gathered to discuss the regional AIME program.
The partners — Clinton Community College, CV-TEC, OneWorkSource, ETS and CITEC — designed the Assembling Industry: Manufacturing and Education initiative to provide the basic skills people need to land and retain a job with local manufacturers.
At the gathering Tuesday morning at CV-TEC's main campus in Plattsburgh, CV-TEC Director Michele Friedman noted the program has been around since 2004 but said the partners have instituted changes in response to feedback throughout, and that is again the case.
"It has gone through an upgrade," she said.
They have worked to revamp the curriculum and expand the partnership to include more students, aiming to ultimately produce more gainfully employed people in the North Country, Freidman said.
Clinton Community College Director of Advanced Manufacturing Kristopher Renadette said they are preparing for their 18th class, but they still need to educate more people about what type of careers are available locally.
"A lot of individuals do not know or do not understand the opportunities that you guys (manufacturers) have," he said.
CV-TEC Job Skills Training Coordinator Patty Goodell said that is why each six-week course starts with tours of different companies, such as Mold-Rite, Swarovski or SpencerARL.
It helps build enthusiasm among participants, she said.
"If you take this six-week course, you could end up working in this type of environment," Goodell said.
From the beginning, employers talked about the need for workers with the soft skills needed to succeed, such as punctuality, appearance, communication and teamwork.
Those who successfully complete the course and test will earn the National Work Readiness Credential, which measures aptitude in reading, math, situational judgment and listening skills.
They also go through a 10-hour, online Occupational Safety and Health Administration course.
Renadette said the biggest change is students now earn Manufacturing Skill Standards Council certification in safety and manufacturing processes and production.
"That takes what they have learned and puts it in more of a hands-on environment," he said.
The move to this national certification wasn't a drastic change, Rendatte said.
"What we're doing is to try to align things to better fit our pathways," he said, adding that that applies whether it is simply an entry to manufacturing or career advancement down the road.
HELP WITH PAYMENTS
E-T-S President Deb Cleary said that firm has been involved with AIME since the beginning. They work to set up tours and organize employment seminars at their end.
The firm can also act as an employer as companies and employees go through a sort of test drive, to see if they are a good match, she said.
Goodell said the course costs $2,000. That includes all costs of instruction, materials and testing for certification.
"That's a pretty good deal. The better news is that in the 17 classes we have held, nobody has ever paid out of pocket," she said.
A number of grants and support from a variety of organizations that provide funding, Goodell said.
"The biggest thing is, there's money available," she said.
Schluter Systems Vice President of Production Brad Van Brunt Jr. said he was pleased to learn about AIME.
"I like the program, and I think it makes a lot of sense," he said.
The company has had difficulty keeping its growing workforce full, Brunt said.
"A lot of the people we hire at an entry level; unless they come from another company and have experience, they don't know what to expect on the job," he said.
For that reason, his firm is reluctant to hire those without manufacturing or warehousing experience.
The skills he heard discussed would provide the foundation Schluter is looking for, Brunt said, such as a commitment to safety, quality and efficiency.
"When I see a program like this, with tuition covered by grants, its basically a no-brainer," he said.
"For anybody who would like to get into a career that has benefits, why not go down this path? This is a great opportunity for them."
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