DOBSON — Surry Community announced a new initiative Wednesday morning at the Shelton-Badgett Center for Vitaculture and Enology which seeks to close the gap between the skill level of the local workforce and industry’s needs.
The North Carolina Back to Work grant assists North Carolina residents who are unemployed, underemployed, military veterans, or National Guard and would like to receive free, short-term training in industry-recognized, credential training.
“We know we still have a lot of work to go,” said College President Dr. David Shockley. “We look to this program to get the skill sets they (workers) need and move forward in the job market. It is truly a partnership because the students have to do their part as well.” He praised college staffers and faculty for joining the effort which will benefit Surry and Yadkin counties.
Director, Occupational Extension Programs Terri Cockerham announced the college will offer NC Back To Work Manufacturing Production and Support Training programs. This is made possible through a $120,000 grant. She said this marks the second year the General Assembly has funded the Back To Work grant and challenged all 58 community colleges in the state to collaborate with local industries in developing short term training programs.
“Surry has developed two training programs which include welding and entry-level manufacturing skills leading to industry-recognized credentials from the American Welding Society in the MIG and Stick welding,” said Cockerham. Other certification programs along this line will include OSHA 10 certification, Career Readiness Certification and forklift training.
Cockerham said military veterans may also enter continuing education training programs in health care, emergency medicine, Certified Production Technician, Certified Nursing Assistant, phlebotomy, pharmacy technician, fire and rescue and basic law enforcement. She said the effort would not only include job seeking skills but skills to keep a job.
“Our industrial partners are also important for this grant. They commit to interview those who complete this program,” said Cockerham. “When we took on this grant we realized how important it is to ensure the success of each student. Towards that goal we have hired a success coach who will not only recruit and help participants through the program but to find employment afterwards.”
She introduced Dale Badgett as the NC Back To Work Success coach. Badgett told the group he is a 28-year veteran of the United States Air Force and also is a former SCC student.
“The first individual to give me a chance was (SCC Trustee) Bob Comer,” said Badgett. He recalled how a potential employer at this time told he and Comer they were concerned the area did not have a trainable workforce which met their needs.
“If we can’t give industry the people they need they will leave,” said Badgett. “I hope this will be a part of them getting what they need. Mine is a part-time position but Terri (Cockerham) is going to have a hard time keeping me out of the office.” He stressed that the back to work effort at SCC is not focused only on implementation but follow-up.
Welding Instructor Lou Giovanneillo agreed with this by pointing out there is more to a job than just (welding) skills.
“We need to give them (students) the skills so they’re ready when they walk in the front door,” said Giovanneillo. “There’s a lot more to getting a job these days than there was 50 years ago. It’s more complicated.”
Elkin’s Pittsburgh Glass Works Human Resources Manager Bryan Shaw told the group the program was “about stepping up to a stepping stone” and said having the necessary skills and employability “opens the door.”
Student Kenneth Penley told the group without the grant, which pays for tuition, books and certification fees, he “would not be here today” and said he actually looks forward to going to work now. He also spoke of how working in welding had allowed him to provide for his family. He said he plans to go as far as he can with his new skills.
“If you haven’t realized this yet, we have a heck of a team put together for this,” said Vice President, Corporate and Continuing Education Dr. George Sappenfield. “It’s a unique team. We all work together and we are in it to make things happen and get students back to work.”
Persons interested in the next orientation for the program or NC Back To Work can obtain more information by calling 336-386-3253 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 336-719-1952.