How to Get Funding for Workforce Training
Recently I experienced a real eye-opener about the kinds of funding available for training young workers. Okuma America was able to obtain a $63,000 training grant with the expert help of our partner Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC)…an amount I didn’t even know existed! As everything came into place I wondered, do most machine shops know how to tap into these resources? If you don’t, read on to see how this process worked for us, and how it might possibly work for you too. It all boils down to finding the right partner.
A Painless Process
Our funding was approved very quickly, and it was a 100% painless process. Our partners at CPCC have a lot of experience with this, plus they have a dedicated grant writer on staff, which makes all the difference.
This past March we visited CPCC to make arrangements for our machine donations to their machine tool technology program. We met with Bill Dillon, Associate Dean of Business and Industry Learning (Bill has since retired…congratulations!). As we talked, Bill said he wanted us to meet Allison Bowers, Director of Economic Recruitment, who has expertise with funding programs. She told us many companies in our industry are taking advantage of training grants that are available for those that are growing, rolling out new technology or making significant investments. We gave Bill and Allison a tour of Okuma America and showed them our investments, such as the vertical storage system we installed in our Service Department. Then Allison got to work on our grant. She asked us a few more simple questions along the way, and that was it.
A Win for Everyone
By the beginning of June we received our $63,000 training grant from NCWorks Customized Training, a program that provides education, training and support services for new, expanding and existing business and industry in North Carolina, through a network of 58 community colleges. This process has to be done through a community college, and they become your training resource. In the long run this is a win for everyone because it allows companies to train internal staff, or new recruits, in order to grow, and the college gets the funding it needs to be able to support their community.
How We’re Using the Funding
Typically, it’s not that hard to find people to work at Okuma. But it is hard to find skilled people to work for Okuma. Our training grant is helping fill this gap. We now use CPCC students to fill available slots in our apprentice program. Today we have three people in apprenticeship (pictured above), and two of them came from CPCC. We’re very happy to have young talent we’re developing, and CPCC is happy because they’ve placed students into jobs (our apprentices are officially employees). We also know that CPCC is giving us their very best students because they have a reputation to uphold for delivering good talent.
We’re also going to conduct training for our incumbent workers by holding classes in lean manufacturing, green belt, yellow belt, basic electricity, hydraulics and pneumatics, and even how to use tools like Excel and our ERP system.
Could You Obtain a Training Grant?
Very possibly, yes! The first step is having awareness that these kinds of programs exist. (Now that you’ve read this blog, consider that box checked.) Then, meet with your local community college and ask what’s available. They’re the experts, they’ll walk you through the process, and best of all they’ll be delighted to partner with you. Give them a try and see what you discover.
Brittany Russell is Training Program Manager, Okuma America Corporation.