Morganton—For more than a century, North Carolina led the nation in manufacturing. For decades in the western part of the state, especially Burke and surrounding counties, manufacturing jobs in industries such as furniture and textiles were abundant. Due to increased competition and jobs moving abroad, these industries have undergone a decline in our state in recent years. However, they are far from gone.
With the recent resurgence of manufacturing in Burke County, area industries were finding it increasingly difficult to locate skilled employees. To help sustain manufacturing growth, Burke Development Inc. (BDI) enlisted the assistance of Burke County Employment Security Council /JobLink Career Center; The Cognitive Connection/Workforce Investment Act Contractor; Western Piedmont Council of Governments/Workforce Development and Western Piedmont Community College’s (WPCC) Continuing Education Division to create the Re-Educating A New Employable Workforce (RENEW) program.
Proud RENEW graduate Betty Gardner (r) is grateful to Nick Saturno, RENEW project coordinator and instructor, for his leadership in the manufacturing training program that will provide long term, sustainable employment opportunities in Burke County. Gardner is among the project’s first graduating class of 44.
“Building a more highly skilled workforce is the mission of RENEW,” explained Scott Darnell, BDI president. “To accomplish this, these partners developed a manufacturing training program that will provide long-term, sustainable employment opportunities in Burke County.”
Darnell explained that the goal for this initiative was for at least 50 people to complete the first training program with a minimum of those 22 placed in permanent full-time jobs within the manufacturing companies participating in the project.
“Seven Burke County manufacturing companies committed to this project by helping us to help develop a training program that met their needs in the areas of soft skills, that make a worker a good employee, and technical skills needed to do the work,” said Darnell. “These employers have also agreed to consider the completion of the program as a preferred credential for those who apply for permanent positions with their companies.”
Burke County Manufacturing companies participating in the program include Siegwerk EIC LLC, Continental Teves, Sypris Technologies, Master WorkHolding, American Roller Bearing, Caterpillar, and BSN-Medical.
“Continued support for the RENEW project from area manufacturing will make it a success,” continued Darnell.
The RENEW project recently graduated 44 out of its inaugural class of 50.
“We’re very pleased to have an almost 95 percent graduation rate,” said Nick Saturno, RENEW project coordinator/instructor and WPCC customized training coordinator in the Continuing Education division. “Following our recent graduation ceremony, all the graduates had the opportunity to submit resumes to each of the participating manufacturers. We are doubly pleased that we have 24 graduates already employed, surpassing our goal of 22, as an outcome of completing the RENEW project.”
One of RENEW’s success stories is Betty Gardner who entered the program as a dislocated worker temporarily employed at Caterpillar. Upon entering the project, sixty-year old Gardner identified her age as a barrier that she could not seem to
“I may not be ‘tech savvy’ but I do have many years of employment experience to my advantage that younger applicants do not have,” she said. Just two short weeks into the RENEW program, Gardner was offered full- time permanent employment at Caterpillar. Although newly employed, Gardner did not want to discontinue her RENEW training.
“I told my new boss at Caterpillar that I didn’t want my employment orientation to disrupt my class attendance! My manufacturing certification classes are very important to my success and Caterpillar allowed me to schedule around them.”
The next RENEW training program is set to begin in July. To learn more, contact Nick Saturno at 828/448-6148 or email@example.com.
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Western Piedmont Community College
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Morganton, NC 28655