A forward-thinking partnership in Nevada’s capital city is poised to help provide a skilled advanced manufacturing workforce in northern Nevada.
Western Nevada College and the Carson City Public Library have formed an alliance through Nevada’s Working Capital program to promote Manufacturing Technician 1 credentialing for area residents.
Armed with newly certified MT1 trainers, WNC and the library will provide manufacturing employees and community members the opportunity to learn the advanced technology skills used by many manufacturers today. And, the training will be available at little or no cost.
Within a month of each other last fall, WNC and the Carson City Library each contacted the Manufacturing Skills Institute in Richmond, Va., about facilitating community-based learning in manufacturing. Manufacturing Skills Institute Executive Director Katherine DeRosear brought the two community resources together, along with the Carson City School District and the library received federal funding through a Library Services Technology Act.
The grant will allow many community members and students to prepare for and take the exam at no cost. The partnership will serve as a national benchmark for new ways to certify workers for employment in manufacturing.
“It’s fantastic,” DeRosear said, to have a library partnering with a community college to create job skills.
“There are partners who talk about doing something, and they are actually doing it, offering value-added service,” said DeRosear, whose institute is making its first foray westward to certify manufacturing employees.
Emily Howarth, WNC’s professor of Electronics and Industrial Technology, and Carson City Library Director Sena Loyd vigorously put the education plan into action this summer.
“Nevada’s Working Capital collaboration is working in close partnership with the Manufacturing Skills Institute to train and test the candidates for the MT1 — to grow and sustain the workforce that lives and works in Northern Nevada,” Howarth said. “Our appeal is to the business community, ‘Look what we’re doing to support the workforce that is coming your way. Look at how we’re working together with these resources.’ ”
The MT1 credential is endorsed by the National Association of Manufacturers. Earning an MT1 credential documents broad-based knowledge of the processes needed to troubleshoot and solve problems beyond the scope of typical machine operations. They have the skills expected in advanced manufacturing positions, including computer-aided design, computer-controlled machine programming, precision measurement, process and machine troubleshooting, problem-solving, machine maintenance, and proficient use of diagnostic and statistical tools.
Ray Bacon, executive director of the Nevada Manufacturers Association, said the MT1 credential has great value in the industry.
“The Nevada Manufacturers Association would like its use expanded to grow the pipeline of skilled workers available to manufacturing and other advanced technology sectors in northern Nevada,” Bacon said.
“Today, I think the MT1 program fits closely to the needs of the 3,000 employees that Panasonic will need. In addition, we have quite a few existing companies where we believe this program fits nicely as well.”
Howarth has set up MT1 exam preparation through an academic-credit program that includes three Applied Industrial Technology classes totaling 10 college units. During the fall and spring semesters, 50 scholarships are available to cover the $300 cost for MT1 preparation materials and exam. WNC’s fall semester begins Monday, Aug. 31, and spring semester starts Monday, Jan. 25.
“Students can test at any time during the semester if they have mastered the material and objectives,” Howarth said.
Those already employed in manufacturing could receive tuition assistance from their employer, covering most of the costs of attending WNC.
As the first library nationally to become an MSI-authorized assessment center and certified MT1 trainer, Loyd plans to target people 18 and older who are transitioning from the military, women, and an underserved population that might have ruled out going to college. They will have access to computer training workshops that will prepare them to navigate the digital training modules needed to pass the MT1 test. Labs conducted by MT1 trainers will supplement the online course material.
“I do believe there is a lot of our community that might be near or at the poverty level who might think they can’t do something like this, but just don’t have the knowledge of what resources are available to them,” Loyd said.
The library launched MT1 programs on Tuesday, Aug. 25 and Friday, Aug. 28. These participants are scheduled to complete MT1 credentialing in December.
There are other options for community members as well.
“Those with manufacturing experience who choose online education in CoursePark (included with the testing fee) can start at any time at the library,” Loyd said.
MT1 candidates can seek tuition assistance for the WNC classes through their job, or request flexible scheduling to accommodate study and lab time to prepare for the credentialing exam.
In early August, MSI sent Victor Gray to WNC to educate college and library employees as MT1 trainers. Howarth and Loyd were among those who were trained. They can now use the Manufacturing Institute’s curriculum modules, implement standalone instruction, or embed the information into their course offerings.
Participants benefitting from the grant will have until June 2016 to take the MT1 exam. The library can provide 13 scholarships to community members who can’t afford the $300 exam.
“You might not want to go to college right now and you want to take time off, but what are you going to do while you take time off?” Loyd said. “Why don’t you go through this program and work for a manufacturer. The effort may turn into a career.”
While visiting the WNC campus, DeRosear was well aware of the manufacturing renaissance going on in Nevada.
“What the region is doing, it’s setting a national benchmark to recalibrate to community assets,” DeRosear said. “Why don’t we create this program where with Tesla and Panasonic coming, the library could be a feeder system to WNC. It gives individuals in the community two options to pursue an industry credential.
“If this is the right fit, employers will eventually prefer or require this credential, which will change the behavior of the education marketplace and its interface with the labor force.”
Those shifting from the military could really benefit from the MT1 program, according to DeRosear.
“This is also a fantastic tool when you think about working with transitioning military members and how to translate the military experience into manufacturing skills,” she said. “Once they are at the college they can pursue a business credential and they are employable to get a job and they can earn while learning and continuing on their career path.”
Howarth said the credential could be just the beginning for people who take advantage of the unique collaboration.
Anyone interested in pursuing an MT1 credential can contact WNC’s Howarth at firstname.lastname@example.org or the library at 775-887-2244 or 775-283-7555.