There’s still a large need for tech and manufacturing workers in North Carolina. One community college is making a push to train hundreds of new workers in the field.

Dr. Janet Spriggs and Dr. Stacy Waters-Bailey discussing Forsyth Tech Cares on Triad Today

Forsyth Tech Wins $5M Grant to Train Students in Advanced Manufacturing

There’s still a large need for tech and manufacturing workers in North Carolina.

One community college is making a push to train hundreds of new workers in the field.

That college – Forsyth Tech – is the only community college in the state and one of 11 colleges nationally to receive an award under the Department of Labor’s Strengthening Community Colleges Program.

Right now, the college has at least 100 students in the advanced manufacturing program and it hopes to recruit more.

But the big hurdle – meeting employers’ demands for more skilled workers.

“If you like it, you’re going to be good at it,” said Pemmco President Rick Powell. “If you’re good at it, you’re going to rise to the top.”

“These types of grants give us that nudge, that momentum that we need that helps us to fulfill our vision,” said Forsyth Tech Chief Academic Officer Jacob Surratt.

Forsyth Tech is partnering with growing industries here and across the region – some include Pemmco, Herbalife and Siemens.

“We always want to be proactive in our training, responsive to our industry partners needs and make sure we are providing a skilled workforce,” Surratt said.

We’re told the program is truly about transforming the community, but what must be done first, combatting misconceptions.

“People still think of manufacturing as an old man leaning across a dirty piece of equipment that gets covered in oil in a smoky environment,” Powell said.

Pemmco Manufacturing makes parts in aerospace, automotive and lawn and garden.

Powell says industry leaders need to get younger people in as the older generation retires, showing them clean environments that involve computers, 3D models and the latest technologies.

“We can go out and buy more equipment and we can buy additional building space, but we can’t go out and buy human resources,” he said. “We need employees who have technical skills.”

We asked Forsyth Tech leaders how they can ensure students will be ready for evolving jobs in the field. They say educators need to be…

“providing education that is timely, does it need to be accelerated,” Surratt said.

“If we can get the students in and see it and pick it up, that’s probably the best way to get them interested,” Powell adds.

Powell says his company works with students on a focused curriculum and then hires them afterward.

Joining with Forsyth Tech are Alamance Community College, Davidson-Davie Community, College, Guilford Technical Community College, Montgomery Community College, Randolph Community College, Rockingham Community College and Surry Community College. Their foundational activity will be creating a Business & Industry Leadership Team giving regional employers a co-leadership role for technical programs in machining and mechatronics.