North Carolina Community College System President Scott Ralls received a glimpse of the customized training partnerships between Richmond Community College and local industries Monday as he kicked off the system’s Manufacturing Awareness Week.
Ralls visited the Forte Building on the college’s main campus and spoke with students in the Electric Utility Substation and Engineering programs before heading to Plastek in Hamlet and Service Thread in Laurinburg. At both plants, management stressed the importance of customized training to their operations.
“There aren’t many places around here that have manufacturing processes like ours,” said Plastek General Manager Steve Ulrich, “so we have been looking for entry-level employees who are motivated and training them to operate our equipment. This is where RCC has been so helpful with the customized training.
“With RCC’s help, we have had employees that started out in entry-level positions then worked their way up the ladder to management roles,” Ulrich said.
At Service Thread, customized training through RCC has played a similar role.
“What we do here involves equipment that comes from foreign countries and we often combine equipment and processes to create things that are unique to Service Thread,” said Chief Operating Officer Jay Todd. “So our highest costs are in training people to use it.
“RCC gives us some relief with training and helps us get up and running faster and has helped us be more profitable and add more equipment, which means more jobs. But I think there is so much more that we can do with RCC to grow our workforce,” Todd said.
“The community college system in North Carolina has a history of customized training with the industrial training centers created in the 1950s in the state,” said Ralls. “As the system has grown, we have created more comprehensive institutions but that customized training is still an important part of what we do. What we’ve seen today is evidence of that.”
Ralls also took time while in the area to speak to the Rockingham Rotary Club on the importance of having a highly trained workforce.
“We are appreciative of Dr. Ralls for taking the time to visit with us and see the partnerships that have been built between the college and our local industries,” said RCC President Dale McInnis. “They are so important to rural communities like ours and we appreciate the opportunity to showcase the work we are doing with our manufacturing partners.”