Bridging the Skills Gap: Fast Funding for Training
Recently Okuma America obtained a $63,000 training grant with the expert help of Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC), and you could potentially get involved in a similar program. Here we share the story of how this process worked for us, and how it might possibly work for you too. It all boils down to finding the right partner.
Quick and Easy
The funding was approved very quickly, and it was quite a simple process. The folks at CPCC have a lot of experience in this area, plus they have a dedicated grant writer on staff – Allison Bowers – and that makes all the difference. Allison told us many companies in our industry are taking advantage of training grants that are available if you’re growing, rolling out new technology or making significant investments. We gave her a tour of Okuma America and showed her our investments, such as the vertical storage system we installed in our Service Department. Then Allison got to work on our grant.
Grant Benefits All
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.
Okuma’s Apprenticeship Program
Typically, it’s not 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, and we now use CPCC students to fill available slots in our apprentice program. Today we have three people in apprenticeship, and two of them came from CPCC. In the photo above you can see our apprentices assisting with the installation of a MULTUS B750 by reviewing measured static accuracies and determining next steps. 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.
One Way to Obtain a Training Grant
There are many ways to acquire funding for training programs, but this approach is remarkable for how easy it is and how quickly dollars are awarded. The first step is having awareness that these kinds of programs exist. 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. It’s well worth the investigation.