Students at the October NCC graduation of the micro-credentials in manufacturing program.

Targeted training helps residents land jobs they want

Luiza Politano moved to the Lehigh Valley from Brazil several years ago with her husband. Only a few credits shy of earning her engineering degree in Brazil, she was excited to begin a career in the United States but was challenged by the language barrier she experienced in applying for jobs on-line.  

Like Politano, Justin Zehner was having a hard time getting his career on track. A bright high school graduate with strong analytical skills, he was working in seasonal positions without a solid direction for the future.  

Both were perfect candidates for the Micro-Credentials in Manufacturing program offered at Northampton Community College, made possible through a partnership between the college and the Lehigh Valley Workforce Development Board. Initiated in 2017 and now funded through a state Department of Community and Economic Development grant, the program trains unemployed and under-employed area residents for jobs in manufacturing.  

Working with sponsoring companies like BBraun, REEB, Fluortek, Lutron and Sussex Wire, the program is focused around three modules: Is Manufacturing for Me, Assembler and Transition to Work or Post-Secondary Education, all delivered at NCC’s Fowler Southside Campus via on campus and on-line learning. Hands-on training is taught in NCC’s Fab Lab. 

Students learn how to use the micro plasma cutter.

The on-line portion is structured to help students progress through modules based on their ability to successfully complete related test questions. During the three modules, students cover hundreds of pages of content and complete more than 1,000 test questions.  

Originally developed as a 15-week initiative, it was soon offered as an accelerated nine-week program to get students into the workplace more quickly. To date, 90 students have graduated the programs, completing 345 micro-certifications, with 98 students earning OSHA-10 cards.  

Impressively, 66 percent of program graduates were either employed or went on to earn a technical degree. Program graduates have been employed by Crayola, Fluortek, HindlePower, Lutron, Mack Trucks, REEB, Sussex Wire and Victaulic to name a few.  

For Politano, after completing the program’s final module, she was hired by Crayola as an engineering process improvement technician which spring boarded her to a career as a successful distribution planner at another company. And Zehner, who also excelled in the program, and is thriving at Lutron as a technical assistant. He is now continuing his education at NCC as a part-time student through the company’s tuition reimbursement program.   

Six students graduated on Oct. 1 with two more cohorts scheduled to be completed before the end of the existing grant period June of 2021. For more information about the Micro-Credentials in Manufacturing, contact Jessy Severino at 610.332.6317.