Staff Reporter – Pontiac Daily Leader
Updated Jun. 28, 2013 @ 12:55 pm
Pontiac, Ill. —
The county commissioners’ room of the Historic Livingston County Courthouse in Pontiac was filled Monday with friends and family, all in attendance to see the Greater Livingston County Economic Development Council’s graduation ceremony for the fundamentals of modern manufacturing skills training program.
The program celebrated the graduation of its first group of 12 students. Their successful completion of the program marked the proven success of the largest customized training program in Livingston County provided by Heartland Community College.
The goal of the program, when it was initially presented to the Livingston County Board by GLCEDC’s Chief Executive Officer Adam Dontz on April 11 is twofold: to attract new business to the area and at the same time help local businesses grow. During the board meeting, Dontz reported to board members that area businesses had expressed to him their need for a program which would focus on job training for the manufacturing trade. His proposal was a six-week program, in conjunction with Heartland Community College, which would involve a maximum of 20 students in an effort to enhance the skills of local workers.
Upon successful completion of the program, graduates would be invited to interview at all of the participating businesses. After 90 days of employment, a portion of the funds required to attend the program would be reimbursed from the company back to the education fund.
“Your successful completion of the program will send a message to investors considering Livingston County,” Dontz stated to the graduates. “This public-private partnership and the success of its graduates clearly demonstrates the quality of our labor force, the idea that government and business can work together quickly and swiftly, and most of all, the fact that we are one of the most progressive locations in the state because of how we retain and attract business.”
For Nick Runyon of Fairbury, success in the program translates to opportunity and future financial stability. Runyon was asked to attend the program by his employer, Technical Metals, Fairbury.
Going into the program, the graduate said he had no idea what to expect, but he hoped to come out of the program with an idea of whether or not this was the career path he wanted to pursue.
“I fully support it,” Runyon said of the program. “The things I learned here, when compared with what I learned at Technical Metals — I have a feeling guys are going to come to me now. I will have to train them, but I feel confident that I know what I am talking about. I see the difference this program can make.”
Runyon said he particularly the lessons on quality and safety measures. Runyon said the skills he learned weren’t tailored to his current employer and could be used in any manufacturing business.
“The safety parts are probably the most universal part of the class,” said Runyon. “That was the biggest learning experience for me because all of the companies involved in this don’t do the same thing, but everybody requires safety.”
Graduate Scott Brazzale, who interviewed within 24 hours of graduation, had a job the day after his interview.
“I was really interested in what they did over at Selig Sealing Products,” he said in regards to his new position. “I mentioned that they would be my first choice if I could interview anywhere and I interviewed well.”
Brazzale initially met Brad Gulliford, the plant manager at Selig, when Gulliford was serving as a guest speaker in the class. The employers in the county were able to meet the employees on a smaller scale, which helped make names of those who graduated stand out from the rest.
Brazzale said what he took away from the program was an awareness of the manufacturing process as a whole. It was something he wasn’t aware of prior to attending the class and he came away with an understanding of what it means to be a good employee.
“I am a lot more aware of product quality and how to use instruments to verify quality,” he said. “I also learned a lot about interviewing. Instructors in the class really helped us by going into depth about the interview process. Afterward, I felt much more comfortable and confident with the interviewing when I went to interview for my job.”
After opening comments from Dontz, Jerry Hoffman, the president of Hoffman Tool & Die and Technical Metals, spoke in regards to the next step for the graduates. In particular, he talked about the interview process. He started off by stating that while it takes about five years to become a machinist, that time span is significantly decreased for those who complete and learn from the GLCEDC’s program. He then focused on the importance of interviewing well and the importance of staying employed at the same place. He stated that 70 percent of people in today’s workforce dislike their job. In fact, he said the millennial generation, on average, will switch jobs once a year, a statistic that makes it hard for employers to consider a potential employee for hire.
To those taking part in the interview process upon graduation — some were presently employed — Hoffman suggested graduates should keep in mind the notion that the person who is interviewing them was hired because they are good at sifting the bad employees from those who would be an attribute to the company.
“Think about the impression you are making to the employer,” he implored. “Don’t expect a company to give you anything. Be willing to invest your own time learning and come in with a good track record. It’s difficult to award a revolving door. Remember, as an employee, your job is to give the company a chance.”
Those graduating included: William Aldridge, William Brennan, Kenneth Fullerton, Alan Lewis, Jr., Larry Payton, Jr., Trenton Steffen, Scott Brazzale, John Coleman, Jason Gorbet, Herby Matic, Nick Runyon and Timothy Young.
Pontiac Daily Leader Article Link: http://www.pontiacdailyleader.com/article/20130628/NEWS/130629314