We are always looking for new ways to assist our existing businesses. Recently, our office saw the success of an innovative program in another part of North Carolina and decided to learn more.

The Rowan-Cabarrus program is an eight-week course where students can receive the national industry-recognized core skill certification, Certified Production Technician from the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council. The CPT curriculum covers safety, quality practices and measurement, manufacturing processes and production, and maintenance awareness. Over 80% of their graduates have found full-time employment within one month of completing the program.

One of the key leaders who developed this program recently met with members of Central Carolina Community College, Sanford Area Growth Alliance staff and local industry leaders to discuss the program and how it has made a difference.

“While we hear a lot about low unemployment, many of us know people who are still piecing together multiple part-time jobs or who are desperately searching for a good job,” said Craig Lamb, vice president of Corporate and Continuing Education at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College. “This program is for anyone who wants a quality full-time job with full benefits — it doesn’t matter what your background is, it matters what your future is.”

Graduates with little or no manufacturing experience are securing employment by transforming themselves into career-ready manufacturing professionals through this no-cost training program. Those who have not considered manufacturing as a viable career option or those with no experience in the field should not be deterred from pursuing the program. The Certified Production Technician classes will give workers the opportunity to transition into one of a number of good jobs available right here in our community.

Margaret Roberton, vice president of Workforce Development at Central Carolina Community College, is doing an excellent job of using the existing model to build a program that can be utilized in Lee, Chatham and Harnett counties. We look forward to the chance to roll out this new way to help our citizens looking for a new career path and help our existing industrial community meet their workforce needs.

“Engagement with employers to define workforce needs is a critical component of designing programs that meet the demands of our community,” Roberton said. “We are fortunate that we have strong employer voices and active involvement from our economic development partners to work towards implementing new projects like the Central Carolina Manufacturing Collaborative, which will initially focus on entry-level opportunities through the Certified Production Technician program.

“Modeling the successful efforts of other communities provides us a jumpstart on creating something that uniquely serves the needs of our region,” she said. “We welcome our manufacturing employers to join this initiative to ensure that we have a robust talent pipeline for the good jobs available in our community.”