New Western Nevada College class step toward meeting need for skilled labor
January 27, 2016
Like college football coaches who are making their last pitches this time of year trying to convince prospective players to attend their schools, two representatives of local manufacturers sounded like recruiters themselves when talking about their need for skilled labor at a new Western Nevada College class Monday.
Scott Gertz, plant manager for PME Babbitt Bearings located on Johnson Lane, and Larry Harvey, human resources director for Click Bond, a prominent manufacturer in Carson City, talked about the need for a skilled work force at WNC's new Machine Tool Technology Class.
Monday was the first day of the accelerated program in which 10 students, including four veterans, will meet for 6 hours a day for four days a week. The class, being instructed by David Fulton, is a joint project between WNC, JobConnect and JOIN, Inc. employment services in Northern Nevada.
After the students complete the four-month course, they will have earned 21 credits. They would then be able to take a test to earn a National Institute of Metal Working Skills Certificate and have enough training to enter the skill labor workforce. The training also goes a long ways to meeting the needs of the growing number of manufacturers coming to Northern Nevada such as Tesla.
Girish Pandit of JobConnect arranged for Gertz and Harvey to address the class Monday. Gertz said there are estimates anywhere from 400,000 to 2 million skilled labor jobs that go unfilled in this country because of a lack of skilled workers.
He said his plant has eight to nine machinist, but has a need for 15 to 20 machinists and is looking to expand on that.
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"We really don't have a lack of work," Gertz said. "We can guarantee you job placement. There's lots of positions that need to be filled."
He said a typical salary at his plant is $18 to $20 an hour and there are those on the plant floor who make six figures a year. Gertz also said about machinists, they can go "anywhere in the country and get a job wherever they want."
Harvey echoed similar sentiments saying Click Bond has never laid off anyone, adding he fills on average 50 positions a year. He estimated about 20 of those positions are new positions with the others being through attrition. He did say Click Bond is looking to expand production in an area that makes up more than 50 percent of the company's operations. Click Bond also plans to have an apprenticeship program through WNC in the fall.
It was a competitive process to select the students for the class as the students in the class had to earn a qualifying score on the National Career Readiness Certification pre-exam.
Jordan Bailey, 22, was made aware of the class through the state's Rapid Response program, which assists employers who have to lay off employees in helping them find employment somewhere else.
Bailey said the company he was working for is relocating and has already been offered a letter of intent to hire from another local manufacturer, CGI, if he completes the class.
"I think it's honestly a huge opportunity," Bailey said. "I'm willing to apply myself. My ultimate goal is to get a (permanent) job, but I don't want to stop my education."
Barbara Walden, grant manager for economic development and continuing education, said a U.S. Department of Labor grant is providing equipment for the course. The students' tuition is being paid for through Career Enhancement Program funding from the Nevada JobConnect/State Department of Training, Employment and Rehabilitation.