Instructor Rick Bergendahl says the students went from learning about tools and fasteners to re-assembling an engine.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Seven people received certificates on Tuesday after completing a collaborative workforce development pilot training program at McCann Technical School.
They are ready to join the workforce after completing the pilot manufacturing training project through a joint MassHire Berkshire Career Center and McCann Technical program.
"We thought it would work and obviously you feel as though it did and this will prepare you for a job out there," state Rep. John Barrett III told the students. "There are a lot of jobs and boy they are going to be all over you like a cheap suit."
Melanie Gelaznik, executive director of the local MassHire center, said the partnership with General Dynamics and McCann was to develop a training program that aligns with skill sets General Dynamic requires for entry-level positions.
"When people have open positions, we don't want them stealing from other companies because they are looking for someone who is skilled," she said. "We want to employ people who are not working right now."
Barrett secured the $25,000 earmark needed to fund this program. He said the program provides people with specific training manufacturing businesses demand throughout the county.
"You train them with the assistance of the employer who needs them. More of this is needed especially in Berkshire County," he said. "It is really on the job training."
The program first needed to be developed and staff from MassHire Berkshire Career Center and McCann took a tour of General Dynamics’ manufacturing facility to see the type of work that would inform their instruction.
Mike Maloy from General Dynamics said programs such as this help create a pool of potential employees with specific needed skills.
"You never know when your opportunity to hire is going to come. Although we are going to grow we don't necessarily know how quick," he said. "We want to be able to fill that pipeline with candidates and provide that opportunity throughout the county."
Students participated in 50 hours of instruction that was taught in six modules developed by McCann staff Rick Bergendahl. The training modules included basic math, working with small hand tools, learning how to read blueprints and wiring documents, disassembling and reassembling a motor, and applying basic wiring and soldering skills.
"Over the past few weeks we went through a boatload of stuff," he said. "We started with a square one. This is a screw, this is a nut, and these are the tools used to put them together."
Bergendahl said they went over the basics in week one and went from building erector sets to taking apart and reassembling a small motor.
The next week they learned about technical drawings and documents they would encounter in the field. From there they trained on an electronic training kit.
Week three they took on the soldering gun and learned how to solder things together as well as take them apart.
The program concluded with the assembly of a small video game console that took the bulk of the last week of the program.
The training concluded with six-hour work readiness training provided by MassHire Berkshire Career Center staff. Topics included time management, technical ability, communication, initiative, and responsibility as well as the importance of attitude.
The trainees said they felt prepared and took a lot away from the program.
"It was a good class I enjoyed it," Victoria Therrien said.
"It took patience," Tod Powers said. "Trying to hold things together while soldering so they don't pop apart."
"Rick was a wealth of information," Sam Fusini added. "I learned a lot."
"I learned a lot from it," John Gill said. "I had a background in some of the basic mechanical stuff but the soldering was all new to me but to do all of this and to get it done it time was good."
Bergendahl said he thought the program was a success but did note he wished he had more time to work with the students. He said with two more weeks they could have assembled all of the games and students would have the opportunity to work more collaboratively
Luckily McCann and MassHire Berkshire Career Center hope to continue this program and only improve it.
"This has a future life and this is iteration one," Superintendent James Brosnan said. "There are other companies, who shall be nameless at this point, who need the same skill sets."
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