WNCC takes school to work in new program

The managers at American Buildings Company in Carson City wanted to know how to say "sag rod" in Spanish to be able to explain it to their work force, which is 70 percent Hispanic.

While most don't even know what it is in English, Luis Pierrott was able to translate that term, which is defined as "a tension member used to limit the deflection of a girt or purlin in the direction of a weak axis," and 25 other pages of terms to teach them to the supervisors of the company.

Pierrott, the trade and industry support specialist at Western Nevada Community College, is part of a team that is working to bring school into the workplace.

"The students are so excited," Pierrott said. "They continue asking for more programs."

The idea came to Dick Kale, director of manufacturing and technology services at the college, as he surveyed the employment demographics for Carson City.

"I was looking over who we serve and what our job is," he said.

Nearly 4,000 of Carson City's work force is employed by the manufacturing industry. Nearly 9,000 people work for the government.

Kale began by offering courses at the college that were job-specific.

He said during the first year, the classes were very popular but then enrollment began to taper off. Although the general interest still remained, employees and employers wanted information that specifically targeted their job site.

Kale complied.

"They are taxpayers," he said. "They are paying for our educational system and it needs to be accessible to them."

Companies contact Kale with the general idea for a class but they want certain information left out and other skills added. Each company also comes with a specific time line.

"They need the training now in order to complete a certain job," Kale said. "They can't wait for January, when the next semester starts, for the next training."

Finding the right instructor can be difficult, however, because most people who are qualified to teach the class work during the day.

Kale said stay-at-home moms are prime candidates for the job and he is going to try to focus more on finding retirees.

"That will work as long as the technology doesn't change from year to year," he said.

Despite the hard work, Kale said it is worth it in the end when the employers are satisfied.

"You grind your guts because you think you're not going to be able to make deadline or be able to find the instructor," Kale said. "But it's fun. The greatest reward is when the employer says, 'Wow, you can do that?'"


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment