Sierra College Hosts CNC Machining Training Funded by Sacramento Manufacturers to Create Labor Pool

Sierra College and the Sacramento Valley Manufacturing Initiative partnered to offer an intensive 60 hour machinist training that was developed, taught and paid for by manufacturing companies bent on creating a labor pool of people with basic skills who could enter the trade as apprentices.

With a common need to fill open positions for machinists, members of the Sacramento Valley Manufacturing Initiative (SVMI) led a partnership to create an intensive 60 hour Introduction to Machining program held at Sierra College, explained Tim Schaefer, West Coast Regional Sales Manager, CERATIZIT Sacramento (Formerly PROMAX Tools), and SVMI Leadership Committee member. "Our goal was to create an entry way to the employment pipeline for recruits and a labor pool of people with some understanding of basic machining skills for our members," said Schaefer.


The SVMI training was very successful with 14 out 15 apprentices completing, explained Mike Bell, Deputy Sector Navigator for Advanced Manufacturing for the California Community College Chancellor's Office in the North Region hosted at Sierra College and SVMI committee member. "The Sierra College Hass Center for Advanced Manufacturing by Design was equipped to provide participants with experience on standard tools used by industry," said Bell. "Most of the trainees were hired, are earning an excellent starting wage and will qualify for a $500 Haas Foundation award for completing the program and being enrolled as a Sierra College student. Employers covered the cost of the instructors and lab, and two-thirds of that cost will be reimbursed by Employment Training Panel funding if an apprentice was hired and completed the 90 day probation."

Michelle Stofan, Vice President, Garner Products Inc., sees the SVMI basic skills program as a new approach to recruiting. "It is difficult to detect work ethic in an interview or the genuine interest of candidates who have no experience in the field," said Stofan. "When someone commits to participate in training three times each week for six weeks, you know they are personally motivated to explore a machining career."

Bell indicated that the demand for machinists is high in the Sacramento region and state. "Modern machining is extremely precise using Computer Numerical Control (CNC) tools to make parts for space ships, medical devices, automated equipment, race cars and robotics," said Bell. "Employers have open positions now and anticipate an ongoing need for qualified CNC machinists. Journeyman machinists earn high wages and have an excellent career outlook."

When he heard about the intensive machinist training, Ben Furiosi was working in construction and now he is works as a Machinist Apprentice at a local company. "The training took away the intimidation of working in a new job because I was somewhat familiar with the tools and processes," said Furiosi. "It is amazing to take a chunk of metal and turn it into something that serves another purpose. Working as a machinist apprentice is something that I take a great deal of pride in and now the day just flies by."

Austin Wilkinson, Production Manager, TechnipFMC (formerly Schilling Robotics), who served as an instructor, indicated that the industry-developed training was unique because industry representatives could provide concrete examples of how the skill or method applied in the real world. "Instructors gave participants insight into the work they were doing in their shops." said Wilkinson. "We shared personal tips and things we wish someone had told us when we were entering the field."

Scott McLean says that he is excited to be starting a second career as a machinist apprentice as a result of the SMVI program. "I would definitely recommend this program," said McClean. "The breadth of material covered gave me the introduction I needed to become an apprentice. As a scuba diver of over 30 years, I definitely feel ownership of my work knowing that the undersea robotic equipment will be used in oceans across the globe."

This innovative machining training and recruiting project was a collaborative effort, explained Schaefer. "SVMI benefited from the support of the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, Gene Haas Foundation, Valley Vision and Sierra College," said Schaefer. "The machining curriculum was developed and taught by machine shop foreman from local firms including Airpoint Precision, CERATIZIT Sacramento, Garner Products Inc. and TechnipFMC. The companies identified common needs and agreed on the basic skill sets to teach in the fast paced training, such as using measuring tools and understanding tolerances."

The SVMI training definitely shows promise as a way creating a pipeline of people interested in machining careers, explained Dirk Halvorsen, Machine Shop Supervisor, TechnipFMC. "Through the training, SVMI created a pool of candidates who had some hands-on experience in machining, enough to know if they were interested in pursuing this career," said Halvorsen. "While those who completed had limited experience, they proved themselves to be motivated applicants."

About SVMI
SVMI is organized by and for Sacramento's manufacturers to work with educators and industry partners to proactively develop vocational, educational and workforce initiatives and programs leading to fulfilling manufacturing career paths for our region's students and workforce.

About Sierra College
The Sierra College District is rising to the needs of our community. Sierra College serves 3200 square miles of Northern CA with campuses in Roseville, Rocklin, Grass Valley, and Truckee. With approximately 125 degree and certificate programs, Sierra College is ranked first in Northern California (Sacramento north) for transfers to four year Universities, offers career/technical training, and classes for upgrading job skills. Sierra graduates can be found in businesses and industries throughout the region.

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