GOODWILL PARTNERSHIP PROVIDES TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION FOR CAREERS IN MANUFACTURING

The Manufacturing Technician 1 (MT-1) certification program, delivered through a partnership of Goodwill and the Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA), helps more people access high-demand careers that offer upward mobility while helping manufacturers solve a critical need for qualified workers. With funding from the Cameron Foundation, Goodwill and CCWA developed the program in collaboration with manufacturing employers who are actively involved in the classroom and stand ready to interview and hire students upon program completion.

“We are continuing to grow and have opportunities for employees to be very successful here, but we just couldn’t staff our workforce and there was no reason why we shouldn’t be able to,” said Ramon Puzon, human resources manager for Service Center Metals, LLC. “It was a frustration that was hitting a boiling point when the Cameron Foundation brought together several employers to help collaborate with the MT1 program. It was a no-brainer, MT1 helps the right people connect.”

Since the program launched in 2019, two cohorts have completed the class and graduated. Over the eight-week course, CCWA provides technical training in manufacturing techniques, business acumen, mechanics, thermodynamics and more at its Chester City campus location. Students test to earn nationally recognized certifications developed by the Manufacturing Skills Institute such as OSHA, First Aid and CPR, demonstrating that they are prepared to be safe and responsible employees.

During the program, Goodwill provides on-site career planning, resume development and job placement services. These wrap-around benefits help graduates be better prepared for the workplace and more successful in their new roles.  

“It is a very collaborative partnership; I’ve been impressed with the program,” said Sharolyn Graybiel, who joined Goodwill to manage credentialing programs in 2019. “The business partners attend the graduations and offer on-the-spot interviews. It enables them to get a feel for the class and learning output from the program. Several employees have gotten four to five job offers upon graduation.”

MT1 helped students like Lizeth Romero become more confident and overcome barriers they may have to employment. In Romero’s case, her previous education in Mexico didn’t translate into the American job market. The manufacturing class helped her on the journey to transferring her skills and improving her English in a technical setting.

“I loved going back to school to learn something new, educate myself, meet new people and create new contacts. This kind of program gives people a change to have new career opportunities,” said Romero. “I’m a chemical engineer from Mexico, and this program gave me the chance to improve myself and my resume, as well as get some interviews with local companies.”

As the MT1 programs grows, CCWA and Goodwill are recruiting additional employers to join the “founding” employer partners such as Service Center Metals, which is expanding and looking to hire 65 new employees this year.

Goodwill’s wrap-around services for MT1 program participants gives Puzon more confidence in hiring graduates. “We know that they are better prepared and that makes the learning curve much shorter for us,” said Puzon.

For more information on the MT1 program or to enroll in an upcoming cohort, contact Dana Newcomer at dnewcomer@ccwa.vccs.edu.

Looking to develop your career? Virginia’s Fast Forward program may help to dramatically reduce tuition expense. Employers interested in connecting with the program may contact Shari Rossino at Shari.Rossino@goodwillvirginia.org.