From the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development PA Proud Blog
For many people, and for a variety of reasons, traditional higher education just isn’t in their plans—whether it’s a matter of cost or being eager to jump right into the workforce. Regardless, most people seek employment that provides financial stability.
At the same time, Pennsylvania’s manufacturing industry needs entry-level workers to maintain operations and facilitate growth.
However, more fast-track, well-paying career opportunities, such as manufacturing, are often overlooked because younger generations tend to be uninformed or misinformed about them. For individuals in the Lehigh Valley who are ready to jump right into training to attain a career in less time, Northampton Community College (NCC) has just the program for them.
You could be a high school graduate or in your 60’s, or anywhere in between.
You don’t even need a high school diploma or GED.
And, you don’t need to be enrolled in credit courses at NCC to take part.
This program creates a cycle that benefits all involved. And, it’s clearly working. NCC received funding from the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) this year through Governor Wolf’s Manufacturing PA initiative due to an impressive data collection that showcased incredible results for students and, of course, the hiring successes for the surrounding companies.
NCC’s Pathways to Manufacturing Program — funded by a grant from DCED — was developed in coordination with Lehigh Valley area manufacturers like Lutron, C. F. Martin, REEB, Georg Fischer and Orasure. Building on former and current DCED Manufacturing Training to Career projects, this shorter introductory program responds to the continuing urgent need for entry-level manufacturing workers by recruiting students who may have transferable skills but are unaware of the many pathways available to a successful career in the manufacturing industry.
This 160 hour non-credit career training program applies a combination of hands-on, online, and classroom instruction, which teach students entry-level skills needed to get their foot in the door for a well-paying career in the manufacturing industry.
NCC’s state-of-the-art technical lab—the Fab Lab—is where the hands-on training like production skills, hand and power tools, measurement device training, and OSHA training come in to play.
NCC truly wants to prepare their students and make them well-rounded for potential career opportunities, so another extremely important aspect of the NCC’s workforce development programs is providing them with employability skill training. This is where they can work on communication skills, receive assistance resume writing, participate in mock job interviews, learn how to work collaboratively with a team, and overall—what will make them a good employee and desirable candidate for a manufacturing company.
And, for more first-hand insight, students have one-on-one time with experienced instructors, tour local manufacturing companies to see the varied types of work environments available in different industries, and participate in Employer Day at NCC.
Employer Day offers students the chance to ask questions directly to leadership from surrounding manufacturing companies and hear about career tracks they could soon find themselves on, right from someone who has the power to potentially employ them.
Understandably, the surrounding manufacturing industry is benefitting as well, with numerous Northampton County companies providing company tours, participating in Employer Day and employing NCC Workforce Development DCED grant graduates as far back as 2017.
Following NCC’s last Employer Day, Jay Bell, Regional Operations Manager at Oldcastle APG said, “It’s great to see that Northampton Community College has identified a very real need to educate individuals on the world of manufacturing. Manufacturing is pivotal in all forms of society but over the last couple of decades has seen a steady decline with informing and teaching younger students on the benefits of it. Great to see a local school putting effort in to change that.”
Thanks to several grants from the Wolf Administration, NCC continues to support over 90 students in receiving flexible, technical, and job-readiness training. And as such, the Lehigh Valley area’s booming manufacturing industry will continue to grow, bringing new opportunities to the community and supporting economic advancements.