Golden LEAF Foundation impressed by CCCC Industry Training Center
Central Carolina Community College President Bud Marchant (left); Dan Gerlach, president of the Golden ... (more)
SANFORD - Caterpillar employee Michael Thompson has high praise for the welding shop at Central Carolina Community College's Industry Training Center.
"This is great equipment we have here," said Thompson. The Lee County resident is the endurance field team leader for Caterpillar's fabrication facility in Sanford. "It's beneficial to the company to have this training available. I have a nephew in Caterpillar's Youth Apprenticeship Program who will also be trained in this shop by the college."
The "great equipment" that Thompson and others were training on in the Industry Training Center's welding shop and industry skills lab was bought with a $447,000 grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation. The Foundation was chartered in 1999 by the N.C. General Assembly to promote job creation and workforce preparedness in economically affected or tobacco-dependent regions of the state.
Foundation President Dan Gerlach and Vice President for Programs/Staff Attorney Ted Lord visited the ITC Nov. 13 to see how successful the grant investment has been. They liked what they saw.
"I feel very good about Golden LEAF's investment in the Industry Training Center," Gerlach said. "This training is very relevant to the company and it has been very helpful to see the equipment in use."
The welding lab includes eight welding bays, a virtual welder, and a portable robotic welding education center. The industry skills lab provides training on pumps, hydraulics, pneumatics, process controls, and related manufacturing skills.
The welding shop and industry skills lab are some of the training areas within the ITC, said Cathy Swindell, CCCC Industry Services director. It also includes a simulated work environment, computer training lab, and a large area for other training, as needed.
Swindell led the tour of the Golden LEAF officials and spoke of the high demand for the training that the college can offer at the ITC and the impact it has on area industries.
"We will run out of space before we run out of companies wanting our training for their workforce," she said. "For example, within the next few years about half of industrial maintenance workers in industry will retire and people must be trained to fill those positions."
She said that Coty, Inc. is among the companies for which the college has done training using the Golden LEAF-funded equipment. Upgrading the skills of its industrial maintenance technicians has resulted in significant savings for the company. Companies such as Red Wolf, Mertek Solutions, Pentair, and Tyson Foods have also taken advantage of training opportunities at the ITC.
"Lee County was heavily dependent on tobacco," Gerlach said. "It's important that the Industry Training Center is helping world-class companies thrive in this area."
Also taking part in the tour were CCCC President Bud Marchant, Institutional Advancement Vice President Celia Hurley, and Economic and Community Development Division Vice President Pam Senegal. The college's Industry Services Department is part of the ECDD.
"Some of the most sophisticated industrial training anywhere is going on in this building," Marchant said. "The Golden LEAF Foundation grant has allowed us to do that by enabling us to purchase the most sophisticated equipment."
One of those pieces of equipment is a VRTEX 360 virtual three-dimensional welding simulator, which allows students to practice welding skills without either the danger of hurting themselves or using up costly materials. A computer assessment screen provides feedback on their efforts, enabling them to achieve a consistent skill level before using a welding torch.
The Industry Training Center is a central location where industries in the college's service area of Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties can send their workers to learn skills needed by the industries, Swindell said. Most of the industry workforce training is funded through the North Carolina Community College System's Customized Training Program. Prior to its opening in February 2012, training was done at the companies, in college shops, or other locations.
The ITC is located within the county's Innovation Center at the Lee County Industrial Park. In 2010, Caterpillar decided to build a $28 million fabrication facility in the Park. The facility will add about 300 positions to its local workforce over the next few years. Many of the new hires need workforce skill training.
In response to Caterpillar's decision, Lee County purchased the 30,000-square-foot former Trans-Matic Corp. building in the Park and converted it into the Innovation Center, an economic engine for the area.
About 6,600 square feet of space was allocated to the college to establish its Industry Training Center. The Innovation Center also houses the county's Economic Development Corporation, a regional office of the North Carolina Community College System's Customized Training Program, and an incubator space for new industries.
For more information about the Industry Training Center, contact the Industry Services Department at 919-718-7212. For more information about the Golden LEAF Foundation, visit www.goldenLEAF.org.
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