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Panasonic representative explains Gigafactory employment needs to Western Nevada College students

Anne Hansen
Western Nevada College

Western Nevada College students received a job placement boost in its Applied Industrial Technology lab this week — a Panasonic representative spoke of his interest in their skills and futures.

Panasonic Energy Corporation of North America sent representative Patrick Wright to speak to students in the two-class summer manufacturing training program, after Northern Nevada manufacturing leaders gathered at WNC to learn about the college’s new Siemens Mechatronic Systems Certification Program.

From Wright, the students learned about Panasonic’s need and desire to hire locally. They also found the company has a preference for skilled and educated workers, and offers some tips for becoming hired.

“This was great,” said Emily Howarth, WNC’s Electronics and Industrial Technology professor. “Being a WNC student pursuing higher education and skill training is what gave them this access. Our lab instructor, Jim Klipp, has led the students through hands-on exercises that correspond to my online class, and the combination program has prepared students to enter the manufacturing environment ready to work.”

The students thought it was positive as well.

“It was a great opportunity to have that available to us,” said WNC student Vincent Camilleri. “It was really cool to hear his presentation, his eyes behind the scene. There are a lot of positions available for different departments.”

Justin Chavez agreed: “It was definitely nice to get a rep to come in because when you are growing up here as a kid, you hear that the Gigafactory is coming and maybe one day you might get a job. It’s pretty unreal, exciting and very motivating.”

Panasonic is hiring for a variety of manufacturing positions as it ramps up to meet the employment needs of producing battery cells for Tesla Motors. WNC and Panasonic have established a partnership to prepare the Northern Nevada workforce to become employed at the Gigafactory in above entry-level positions.

Having a Panasonic representative tell them they are looking for local talent left many students encouraged.

“There is more of a connection to our community that Panasonic is bringing in than I had originally understood, and the connection to Japan,” Camilleri said. “They are really focused on bringing up our community, hiring within our community and helping our community.”

Shafiullah Nasratazda added, “I was thinking when I graduate from here, I would not be able to find the person or the way to go to that factory. Now, we can go there and work.”

Klipp said Wright’s visit was enlightening for his students.

“They received a better understanding of how the Gigafactory works and what would be expected of a new employee,” Kipp said. “They learned how well a quality company will treat employees with benefits such as paying for 90 percent of their education costs after only one year of employment. They also learned that there is plenty of movement laterally and vertically within the company.”

Wright concluded his lecture by telling the students, “I hope to see some of you out on the floor in the near future.”

Panasonic’s growing familiarity with WNC students could be the employment edge they need upon completing their degrees in the manufacturing technician training credential program the college offers, Howarth said. “We have had several conversations about building a pipeline for the technical workforce, and we will continue to present opportunities for students based on these partnerships.

“Higher education and hands-on skill training are the keys to getting a long-term career, as opposed to just getting a job.”

Students starting WNC’s programs in the fall will be introduced to several key employers in the Northern Nevada region, as the college continues to partner with advanced manufacturing facilities of all sizes. For more information about manufacturing classes and programs, contact Professor Emily Howarth at Emily.Howarth@wnc.edu or 775-445-3300.