Manufacturing courses: Companies join with college to produce next generation of skilled workers for industries | NevadaAppeal.com

Manufacturing courses: Companies join with college to produce next generation of skilled workers for industries

BRIAN DUGGAN
bduggan@nevadaappeal.com
JEN SCHMIDT/NEVADA APPEAL
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After months of discussion and planning, regional manufacturers are preparing to roll out a new curriculum at Western Nevada College to help improve the skill set of their current and potential employees.

Since last fall, manufacturers from Carson City, Lyon County and Douglas County have been discussing how to implement such a program and what it could mean for the region’s manufacturing community, which amounts to about 350 employers.

The plan is to offer 15 credits of English, math and computer courses at WNC that would result in a certificate upon completion for employees who particpate. Employers, in turn, would recognize the certificate as a valuable credential.

“It’s something that we’ve been talking about for years and finally we’re making some real headway,” said Harvey Hornung, general manager of the Nevada Heat Treating facility in Mound House. “It’s something to encourage our workers and hopefully students coming out of high school.”

On June 10, area manufacturers will be invited to WNC to learn about the program, said David Steiger, project manager for Nevada Industry Excellence.

“We’re hoping to have the manufacturing community to see if this is worthwhile,” Steiger said, adding the program will start this fall.

The curriculum will include a shop mathematics course that covers fractions, decimals, ratios, geometry and fundamentals of algebra. Participants will also take classes in English composition, blueprint reading and basic computer skills such as word and spreadsheet processing.

After the introductory meeting on June 10, employers will have the summer to identify employees they would like to participate before the semester begins August 30.

Mike Jackson, the president and general manager of Micromanipulator in Carson City, said employers are sometimes challenged to determine the veracity of an applicant’s credentials. With a standardized certificate from WNC, that task would become easier.

“It would mean something to us,” Jackson said. “They could communicate in English, read some blueprints, basic knowledge of computers. And they would have the ‘stick-with-it-ness to complete the program there.”

He said employees could also continue their education after getting a taste of college-level courses.

Employees who agree to attend would also be in contact with the counseling department at WNC as well as take a placement test, which could lead to remedial courses once classes begin in the fall.

Scott Penzel, the director for workforce development for WNC, said the college did not create the program. Instead, it was made by manufacturers for manufacturers.

“This isn’t a WNC program,” Penzel said. “WNC is facilitating this. This is really a manufacturing-based program.”

The 15 credits would cost about $1,125 under current tuition rates, which are $75 and could be changed by the state. How employers and employees choose to pay for the program will be up to them.

For Anthony Scognamiglio, 19, a production assistant at Nevada Heat Treating in Mound House, the certificate could mean a promotion or a bigger pay check down the road.

He’s a recent graduate from Pioneer High School and has taken a couple college-level courses on machine tooling. He said he’s interested in pursuing the new certificate.

“There are a lot of good opportunities,” Scognamiglio said. “I think they do offer a lot of things.”