One of the longest running programs at the College of the Albemarle recently received new equipment to help fill the skills gap for machinists in the area. In October 2019, the Golden LEAF Foundation Board of Directors awarded the College of the Albemarle $125,000 to purchase machining equipment used primarily in its Computer Integrated Machining and Computer Aided Drafting programs. Several area companies need machinists trained on this equipment to fill available jobs.
Golden LEAF funds were used for the purchase of a CNC multitasking lathe and a coordinate measuring machine/ laser scanner. This equipment has allowed the College of the Albemarle to train students and incumbent workers on the state-of-the-art machinery currently used in local industries.
Training on this equipment is required for machining contractors engaged by the U.S. Coast Guard, said Chambers. Hockmeyer Equipment Corporation, with manufacturing headquarters in Elizabeth City, recently announced an expansion of 90 employees. Hockmeyer has communicated to the college both the need for incumbent worker training and the eligibility of new workers trained on this equipment to be hired directly into higher-level machinist positions at the company.
The program has had nine students complete the two and a half semester-long program. Seven of the students were employed as machinists and the other two already had jobs. The program currently has seven students in its curriculum program and six incumbent workers in its continuing education program.
“There is more demand for workers than students coming through the programs,” said Michelle Waters, Dean of Business, Industry, and Applied Technologies / Campus Administrator at the Regional Aviation Technical Training Center with the College of the Albemarle. “Employers often come to their local community colleges first because they trust us, and they know the quality of students that we produce and the skills that we are teaching. We are doing everything we can through recruitment and partnerships with them to help fill supply and demand.”
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