Randolph Community College Fills Skilled Worker Gap
Asheboro in Randolph County, North Carolina, is very much like many of the modern, industrial communities found across America, with a few large manufacturers and a lot of smaller companies and machine shops, all struggling to fill jobs calling for advanced manufacturing skills. They also have a population of young citizens willing to roll up their sleeves and invest their futures in a productive career.
The problem, common in these types of communities, is that there isn’t an easily accessible on-ramp to the manufacturing career highway. But in Randolph County, there is one now.
Kicking off what they call Apprenticeship Randolph, an Advisory Board of area manufacturing companies began working with Randolph Community College to provide the educational aspect of an apprenticeship program. Their input and contributions resulted in a classroom shop that boasts 16 CNC machining and turning centers, along with Mastercam as the CAD/CAM to power them.
After numerous meetings and many hours spent hashing out a plan, the college held a pre-apprenticeship class over the summer for about two-dozen recent high school graduates. Subjects included industrial safety and a basic introduction to machining. Following this class, seventeen of them signed on to be full-fledged apprentices.
As apprentices, these students spend part of their day at assigned companies and the rest of the day attending classes at the college. A motivating carrot for sticking with the Apprenticeship Randolph program is that the students are getting paid while on the job, and they also get paid while they are attending school. The companies involved pay for books and tuition.
Outcomes for these students are excellent. At the end of the program, they earn a Journeyman’s certificate from the North Carolina Department of Labor, as well as an Associate Degree from Randolph Community College. They will also have the benefit of on-the-job experience to relay into rewarding careers, which is a huge added value.
By partnering with the college, the local industry will experience an easing of the pressure caused by the ongoing need to fill the skilled worker gap. You can learn more in a related article from Manufacturing Engineering, Partnering with Local College Helps Industry Fill the Skilled Worker Gap, by Garret Parker, Department Head, Computer-Integrated Machining Program, Randolph Community College.