WNC leads training effort for manufacturing careers

From left, John Crockett, Library Director Sena Loyd and Emily Howarth

From left, John Crockett, Library Director Sena Loyd and Emily Howarth

Training tomorrow’s technically proficient manufacturing workers will move from ramped up status to takeoff in Carson City at the end of August.

That’s a key takeaway from interviews with representatives at Western Nevada College (WNC), the college’s foundation and others associated with or heading a similar direction to forge a Northern Nevada workforce ready for the likes of Tesla, SWITCH and Carson City manufacturers, some of whom participate in the industrial tech training process. A new program and upgraded manufacturing tech lab at WNC combine as a big part of the effort.

“The growth of manufacturing and related job opportunities in Northern Nevada cannot be denied,” said Emily Howarth, WNC professor of applied industrial technology. “It is coming, and this is one way to ensure that Nevadans get first pick of jobs and positions, and then are prepared to work their ways up the pay scale.”

The “this” about which she spoke specifically is new manufacturing technician level 1 training coursework in the semester beginning Aug. 31, but in a broader sense it also includes the thrust of the entire industrial training program and an upgrade in Howarth’s applied industrial technology lab itself. Private sector fund raising is underway for that lab expansion, with construction on it slated to start in a few weeks.

“The MT1 — manufacturing technician level 1 — credential represents a benchmark of skills and abilities that demonstrate what an employee or job candidate knows and can do,” said Howarth, addressing the coursework side of things. “It covers essential math, approaches to quality, basic business concepts, and manufacturing technology fundamentals from electrical to fluid power.”

Howarth said she, Carson City Library Director Sena Loyd and others received intensive education recently in how to train those who take the WNC courses or identical work through Carson City’s library. Those insights were provided by a master trainer from the Manufacturing Skills Institute in Virginia. The skills institute is backed by the National Manufacturers Association, and it promotes core industry wide skills standards needed in modern manufacturing.

“The Carson City Library and WNC collaboration ‘Nevada’s Working Capital’ represents the first opportunity west of the Rocky Mountains for students to be trained, have skill practice options, and enjoy the support of the community to uplift our workforce with the MTI designation.”

The lab, meanwhile, is another facet of WNC’s and the community’s commitment to upgrading equipment and a place to hone industry wide skills needed by workers here and in the region. Katie Leao, director of WNC’s foundation, said $300,000 is being raised for the expansion with help from private sector foundations, businesses and manufacturing groups. She said $50,000 already is in hand from the E.L. Cord Foundation.

She added NV Energy has provided $25,000, with more to come next year, as has the Donald Reynolds Foundation, with more anticipated from that source next year as well. Manufacturing groups also are involved in funding discussions, Leao said, and remodel plans are going to be unveiled in the next three weeks. Work on the upgrades should follow soon after and coincide with the upgraded industrial tech coursework going forward.

David Steiger, WNC director of workforce development, talked of both the MT1 initiative and lab upgrade as he also mentioned Tesla, SWITCH, local manufacturers and industrial training excitement in this region. “It’s all the buzz,” he said, “with all the recent developments.”

Some of that buzz also stems from U.S. Department of Labor funding via a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career Training grant, with three rounds of funding, which according to Steiger undergirds the new industrial tech training efforts not only at WNC but Nevada’s other three community colleges.

“It’s kind of a big deal,” Steiger said, mentioning as did Howarth WNC President Chet Burton is behind the movement to enhance applied industrial training opportunities to help manufacturing and interested students.

George Gussak, director of the Dream It Do It Nevada program promoting industrial tech training and manufacturing career opportunities, pointed to the WNC efforts and others ongoing to boost local training efforts. Along with MT1 training at WNC and the library, for example, he cited the example of Carson High School’s new program in manufacturing technology.

“We are finally all speaking the same language and rowing our collective boats in the right direction,” Gussak said as he touted another venture in the fall to interest young people in considering industrial careers. Manufacturing Month is October, with Manufacturing Day on Oct. 2, kicking off a month-long effort to raise manufacturing’s profile with young people and their parents.

“Activities begin with a breakfast at the Governor’s Annex where leaders of manufacturing, education and government celebrate the importance of manufacturing,” said Gussak. The manufacturing month to follow will include field trips for students to get on-site exposure to industry operations and opportunities.


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