This is an article prepared by Sherry Pritz, EigerLab/Rock Valley College and printed in the Chamber’s November Voice magazine. The importance of the Techworks program warrants a reprint with their permission:
Two years ago EIGERlab, assisted by local manufactures, chose to revamp TechWorks’ CNC machine operator training program. Taking it to the next level, TechWorks added the missing elements local manufacturers requested, including ACT WorkKeys Assessments, Job Readiness training and drug testing; the results have been impressive.
By the end of 2012, the number of graduates projected to complete the program is 135. Of that total, a high percentage of graduates have received job offers and are working in our region. Even though there is still a deficit of trained machinists, TechWorks is making a positive impact on the regions’ needs by training people at a machine operator level; a positive start on the road to becoming a skilled machinist.
Winnebago County leaders, local manufactures and companies that manufacture the machinery affiliated with this industry are fully aware of the workforce needs in our region and have stepped up to the plate to donate funds and machinery to assist with TechWorks’ workforce training goals. Recently Fastenal, DMG / Mori Seiki and Winnebago County have donated new machines, Sandvik Coromant has donated cutting tools and, in addition, Winnebago County has also assisted with a training loan fund. This is a group effort to solve the shortfall of skilled machines as the baby boomer generation retires.
Dan Cataldi, director of the EIGERlab shared, “We feel we have an effective mix of like-minded manufacturing company representatives on our advisory committee collaborating to move this effort forward. Our region has growing needs through expansions and retirements for CNC machine operators and machinists, and this program was designed to immediately address some of those needs.”
TechWorks partners with Rock Valley College and strongly suggests that the TechWorks graduates broaden their skills through additional education related to CNC machining, including programming and set-up at RVC. Many companies in the region compliment the TechWorks machine operator training program by also hiring TechWorks trainers to assist with onsite custom training to more quickly bring their incumbent employees up-to-speed on their products and machinery.