The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM) attended the National Skills Coalition 2015 Summit. As a member of the Virginia Delegation, Bruce Sobczak, CCAM Director of Workforce Development, participated in the 3-day long event that addressed best practices for education and training. The keynote was delivered by Tom Perez, Secretary, US Department of Labor, and culminated in visits to the offices of Virginia Senators and Congressman.
The focus of the National Skills Coalition is investment in job-driven education and training. Of particular interest to CCAM was the focus on the Mid-Skills Gap. Jobs in this area typically require more than a high school diploma but less than a college degree. Workers in these jobs may require customized training specifically targeted to certifications to bridge this gap, as opposed to more traditional forms of post-secondary education. Traditional post-secondary funding sources, such as the PELL Grant program, do not fund the types of highly focused, short-term programs that can lead to industry-recognized credentials.
“Manufacturing companies such as Rolls Royce, Newport News, Stihl and others have created their own apprentice academies to support their needs,” says Bruce Sobczak, CCAM Director of Workforce Development. “Inspired by these efforts, CCAM is implementing a network of advanced manufacturing training centers that will also reach down into the community colleges and high schools. Although our schools are spending more money every year many times they still can’t afford the high tech equipment and tools. The lack of exposure to the latest equipment and methods leave educators a huge disadvantage
“Our training centers are being created in cooperation with industry, government and education and provide the vital resources to be successful in eliminating the mid-skills gap in the Commonwealth of Virginia making it the site of choice for advanced manufacturing firms.”
To date, three Centers of Excellence have been approved for development and will operate as affiliates to the planned CCAM Advanced Manufacturing Academy. The first three centers are created in partnership with the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission (TICRC). They are also the major source of funding for these first 3 centers.
Plans call for the Academy to serve as the hub in a network of training centers across southern Virginia, where complete training programs will be offered in skill areas including machining, welding and industrial machinery mechanics. The centers will deliver hands-on training to students in essential manufacturing skill areas and will develop distance learning programs. Each center will train students to earn industry recognized certifications from organizations including the National Institute for Metalworking Skills, American Welding Society and Siemens.
Under the approved plan the centers are to be located at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston, the New College Institute in Martinsville, and the Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing in Abingdon. While the centers will be based in these three communities, they will serve a much larger geographic area through multiple satellite training locations in each service area.
Plans also call for two additional training centers to be established in other parts of the state.
The Academy has received development funding commitments from the TICRC and the Commonwealth of Virginia. CCAM is applying for matching U.S. Federal funding.
CCAM delivers innovative solutions for manufacturing better products. An applied research center, CCAM provides production-ready advanced manufacturing solutions to member companies across the globe. Members guide the research, leveraging talent and resources within CCAM and at Virginia’s top universities, through a collaborative model that enables them to pool R&D efforts to increase efficiencies. Results can then be applied directly to the factory floor, turning ideas into profit faster and more affordably than ever before. CCAM is located in a state-of-the-art research facility in Prince George County, Virginia. For more information, visit www.ccam-va.com.