Cleveland State Community College shared its strategy and plans for OneSource Workforce Readiness Center with regional manufacturing employers at a recent luncheon.
The center is designed to identify gaps in a student’s education and provide specific training to meet the needs of manufacturers.
“[Workforce development] has always been one of the toughest nuts to crack,” said Gary Farlow, Chamber of Commerce president. “How do you get what industries need, how do industries articulate to us what they need, and how do you develop programs to meet those needs?”
Farlow said his challenge to the industry representatives is for them to get involved.
“We need to know what you need [in employees]. In order to do that, we need to hear from you,” Farlow said.
Representatives from both Cleveland State and regional manufacturers listened as Carl Hite, CSCC president, and Rick Creasy, Workforce Development director, tag-teamed the presentation. Hite said manufacturers need to be specific in terms of what they are looking for in employees.
“We [Cleveland State] need to be precise in how we are assessing prospective employees. Effective programs need to be in place in the schools and technology centers to fix the deficiencies found through the assessments,” Hite said.
According to Creasy, a needs assessment must be completed to ensure OneSource’s effectiveness. Courses will be provided for everything from proper workplace attire to skills needed for a position. Manufacturers’ feedback provides direction for the more specific courses.
OneSource will be open to Cleveland State students as a part of their education. Lessons will potentially be available via online lessons, paper-based instruction, and individual training. According to Creasy, courses in specific areas of training can be made available to current business employees.
“We can do [training] at our place or we can do it at your site,” Hite said.
CCSC’s Tech Center was designed with these projects in mind. The high bay and large garage door allow access to large machinery.
Creasy set out the plan of attack for the representatives.
“We are in the needs analysis phase and a little in the design stage, due to the website. The next step, once we hear from you guys, is finishing the design and developing material,” Creasy said. “Then, we will implement and constantly be evaluating so we can make a difference in the workforce.”
Adam Lowe, CSCC representative and Bradley County commissioner, said there is a bonus to training local workers.
“I represent 14,000 people and they want your jobs. They want their kids to work for your company,” Lowe said. ”For you that means the fidelity of the workforce is stronger when it is more localized. If they can live in their hometown, then they are going to be more faithful.”
OneSource identifies another worry for employers, according to Hite.
“We had a meeting several years ago where employers voiced their concerns about baby boomers retiring with 35 years of knowledge in their head,” Hite said. “So today, I am hoping we can use some of those folks in the delivery of our courses and programs.”
Recent retirees would be used in a part-time capacity. Students and current employees would benefit from retirees’ skills and knowledge.
“Please start the dialogue, because we are anxious to move forward on this project,” Hite said. “You have the same problem as manufacturers all across the country — you cannot find those qualified workers.”
Further additions and specific instructions will be added to OneSource in light of the assessment results.