Training assistance arrives in $460,000 grant

Jan. 10, 2014 @ 07:31 PM

Vance-Granville Community College and four local county school districts recently received a $460,000 grant for career and technical education equipment.

The Golden LEAF Foundation grant will boost the local public schools’ funding to provide training for advanced manufacturing jobs, an emerging sector in the Tri-County area.

The total funding is divided among five entities: $65,000 to VGCC, $100,000 to Franklin County Schools, $100,000 to Warren County Schools, $100,000 to Vance County Schools and $95,000 to Granville County Schools.

Stan Winborne, Granville County Schools director of career-technical education, said the four county schools partnered with the community college to write a grant for the Golden LEAF Essential Skills in Advanced Manufacturing Initiative, which issued its first funding cycle last year.

This second grant cycle was intended to help close the skills gap in the state by promoting programs and training that prepares students for employment in advanced manufacturing and other technical occupations in rural and tobacco dependent counties.

Winborne said the funding for Granville County Schools will be directed toward the technology engineering and design education program.

“The whole purpose is to train kids for advanced manufacturing careers,” Winborne said. “There is more automation in advanced manufacturing, and with that automation comes skills in robotics, electronics, computer programming, mechanics, air systems and hydraulics.”

He said the school district will purchase computerized milling machines and other simulation learning modules, but each district’s purchases will vary depending on its needs.

“These are skills that they need to be proficient on a modern factory floor,” Winborne said. “It’s not just conveyor belts anymore.”

The four county school systems offer a variety of career and technical education programs, including agricultural education, business, finance and information technology education, career development education, family and consumer sciences education, health sciences education, marketing and entrepreneurship education, technology engineering and design education and trade and industrial education.

Willa Clark, CTE director for Vance County Schools, said the new equipment will allow students to practice the types of skills they would perform in an advanced manufacturing environment. She said her department plans to integrate the equipment into existing classes, but has not settled on specifics.

“This gives students a hands on approach,” Clark said. “It takes it beyond theory. Students are visual learners and this helps them to be able to simulate what they are doing and try to find solutions.”

Warren County Schools is using the funds to supplement its solar energy curriculum.

Ernie Conner, Warren County Schools CTE director, said a large portion of the grant money was used to purchase a sophisticated solar training module.

“We want them to be able to install solar panels, understand how they work, and maintain and upgrade them once they are installed,” he said. “We want to prepare students to get certification in the solar industry.”

The N.C. Department of Commerce estimates that 300 new manufacturing-related jobs will be created by 2020 in Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties.

The growth of advanced manufacturing jobs and the need for an advanced manufacturing skill set is also evident on the national scale.

A renewed 2011 survey by Deloitte Consulting LLC and the Manufacturing Institute reported that shortages in a skilled, qualified workforce can impact a company’s ability to expand its operations or improve productivity.

According to the survey, 67 percent of respondents reported a moderate to severe shortage of available, qualified workers, with 56 percent anticipating the shortage to get worse in the next five years.

The survey also shows that five percent of current jobs at respondent manufacturers are unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants.

The Deloitte and Manufacturing Institute survey polled a nationally representative sample of 1,123 executives across the 50 states. Half of the participating companies manufacture industrial products.

 

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.