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|Community college taps new fund to offer new training program|
Delta Community College is partnering with local industry to offer a program to train people for manufacturing jobs.
The college will begin offering the training in January.
Local manufacturer Gardner Denver Thomas Inc. recently approached the college and Monroe Chamber of Commerce about difficulty in finding trained employees.
Company officials worked with Bob Hammack, director of workforce development for DCC, to devise a training program.
The first class will include up to 40 students.
Monroe chamber president Sue Nicholson said the program is similar to the process technology program introduced by ANGUS Chemical several years ago.
The new program will be made possible because of the $10-million workforce training rapid response fund established by the Legislature during the most recent Regular Session.
DCC also recently received a grant to buy the necessary equipment for manufacturing training. Students who enroll in the program can be job-ready within five months. Starting wages for people with certified manufacturing training is $14 per hour.
Debra Krebbs with Gardner Denver Thomas said the company has 61 employees working at its factory and expect 20 of them will retire within 10 years.
"Looking into the future, I need to come up with a way to have them replaced and hopefully, within the next 10 years, we'll have room for growth, and I need to figure out a way to bring in extra people," Krebbs said.
"Looking at Louisiana, the dropout rate in high school is so high, and we need specialized training for people in the community who would have employment and a reason to stay here," she said.
Dr. Dwight Vines, the city of Monroe's economic development officer, agreed. He also said improving the community's workforce will better the chances of the region landing more business and industry.
Vines said there are several new businesses interested in locating in Monroe.
"One of the things they always talk about is the workforce," Vines said. "Anything we can do to upgrade our workforce will be a tremendous benefit to us in terms of economic development."
Nicholson also said the business community believes improving the area's workforce is a top priority.
Dr. Luke Robins, chancellor of Delta Community College, said it is the college's mission to respond to industry's need.
By having access to money from the state's rapid response fund, Robins said community colleges can more quickly implement workforce training measures to help business and industry. Before the fund was established, it could take a year or longer before funding for training programs was available.
"That's not moving at the speed of business," Robins said. "That's government, and it moves at a snail's pace."
"This rapid response fund will allow us to tap dollars when we need them, and respond quickly to industry's need," Robins said. "We're very excited about this, and we're ready to go."
Nicholson said the college will need input from industry officials to maintain a program to meet their needs.
Industry leaders are being asked to serve on an advisory board to ensure the program offers training local manufacturers want from their employees.
Hammack agreed, saying, "When it comes to industrial programs, really the people who need to drive the content are the ones who'll use the finish product. We will need involvement from the business community to help it evolve."
He said people interested in participating in the new training program can sign up now. Training for the first 40 students will be free of charge.
To qualify for CMS training, students must test and score a certain level on areas such as applied match, reading for information and locating information.
Tests will be provided at the Workforce Investment Board on Hudson Lane.
For more information about the program, contact Hammack at 812-0223.