Classes close gap for shortage in skilled labor

Years ago, manufacturing jobs didn't call for much training or education. Just a willingness to work hard, use your hands and not be afraid to get dirty. In 2013, manufacturing involves technology at every step of the way.
Over the years, manufacturing has become more technological, and less dirty, which is the eternal marketing problem for the field, said Denise Beaver, deputy director of the Carroll County Department of Economic Development.
"It's very high-tech. Robotics, welders and [machinists] manage data and information and monitor that," she said.
To teach new students about how manufacturing works today, Carroll Community College is offering new non-credit continuing education courses to help train and retrain workers hoping to enter manufacturing fields.
Matt Day, the director of workforce training and business services, said the program will be for people hoping to begin an entry-level career in machining. The program lasts for one year as opposed to a two-year associate degree, and students earn certifications.
Day said he anticipates the students will be age 18 and older, with a slight emphasis on people who want to retool their careers.
Each course is priced on the content of the class as opposed to credits, he said. A course that involves manufacturing metal will likely be more expensive than classes involving more basic skills, he explained. He said the cost on average evens out to what credit courses cost at the college.
The classes offered include National Institute for Metalworking Skills, or NIMS certifications. Measurement, materials and safety begins Sept. 16 and meets Monday through Thursday until Oct. 30. The second certification - job planning, benchwork and layout - begins Nov. 4 and meets Monday through Thursday until Jan. 8.
There will be classes to follow on manual milling skills and turning operations.
The three segments of the program will provide entry-level, journeyman and master-level manufacturing skills.
There has been more interest in these types of classes recently, said Tim Blizzard, who teaches the same classes at Carroll County Career and Technology Center and whose classroom was the first in Maryland to be NIMS certified. So much interest that the community college gained interest in teaching it to an older crowd.
Students in the Carroll Community College will be learning the same curriculum he teaches to his high school students, he said.
Later classes with Carroll Community College include 3-D printing and robotics courses for more advanced levels of computer numerical control machining.
The college has ordered two 3-D printers which have still not come in, Day said. The benefit of 3-D printers is that they construct plastic versions of an object, which users can test to see if they work.
"We will be using it to allow students to design something, then use it as a prototype," he said.
While the community college is still waiting to receive its 3-D printers, the Carroll County Career and Technology Center currently has one and another on the way.
Jim Gilford, who teaches manufacturing at the Tech Center, said his students move on to secondary education at places like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Virginia Tech, as well as Carroll Community College and the like.
His students work in conjunction with machinists in the Tech Center as well as other teachers and classes. If a student produces a design for a product that requires tools from another class, he makes sure the students learn about that technology as well.
"Everybody around here helps everybody," he said.

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