GOLDSBORO, North Carolina, January 7, 2013 – Through a successful public-private partnership with Wayne Community College, global aerospace and defense leader AAR has designed an 8-week welding certificate program to address a shortage of welders at AAR Mobility Systems. It typically takes a year to earn a welding diploma at Wayne. Under the customized curriculum, incumbent workers from AAR who complete the course can test for their welding certificate and immediately increase their salaries by as much as $4.50 per hour.
With the nation’s unemployment rate hovering just below 8 percent (7.8 percent in December, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics), partnerships between private companies and local colleges are helping to speed the economy recovery for people in need of jobs now. Wayne recently added daytime classes to accommodate AAR employees who work nights, so students earn a paycheck while they learn. Six AAR employees have successfully completed the program and two have gone on to earn their one-year welding diploma from Wayne.
AAR Mobility Systems manufactures specialized equipment used by military to transport troops and supplies around the world. The Mobility workforce consists of entry-level laborers, welders, painters and machine operators. Welders are the most difficult positions to fill.
“The fast-track program is helping us to build a pipeline of talent and provides employees in lower-skilled positions, such as grinders, a clear pathway to advancement to mid-skills jobs,” said Kevin Johnson, Training Specialist for AAR. “Across middle America, AAR is providing thought leadership to solve hiring challenges related to profound skills gaps in manufacturing and aerospace.”
AAR also teamed up with Wayne Community College to develop an Introduction to Manufacturing Course for the general public to build a pipeline of talent. Classes began on October 29, and the curriculum includes soft skills training.
AAR also partners with educators, nonprofits and industry associations in Miami, Indianapolis, Hot Springs, Ark., and Oklahoma City to align curricula with industry standards. Last fall, AAR released the study, “The Mid Skills Gap in Middle America: Building Today’s Workforce,” using itself as an example of a midsized company dealing with hiring challenges that have the potential to threaten business growth. The study (available at http://www.aarcorp.com/mid-skills/) concluded that public-private partnerships are critical to overcoming hiring challenges for jobs that require industry certification but not necessarily a bachelor’s degree.
“Students who are more on the career track than the college track need access to skills training options to pursue good-paying jobs and advance in the workplace,” said Diane Ivey, Director of the Wayne Business and Industry Center. “It’s important for educational institutions to work closely with business to ensure that what we’re teaching matches industry needs so our students are work-ready.”
The fast-track welding curriculum also is available to non-AAR employees through Wayne Community College’s adult continuing education initiatives. Most recently, AAR worked with local industries and the college to develop an Introduction to Manufacturing course designed to prepare students for manufacturing careers.
“As people move up to welding, we’ll have to hire more grinders,” Johnson said. “This creates career paths and will open up opportunities for our other manufacturing employees.”
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