General Plug & Manufacturing is partnering with Lorain County Community College to preempt an expected shortage of machinists in the coming decades. The Oberlin company, which manufactures cold formed, CNC, screw machined and Swiss machined parts for the agriculture, automotive, military and other industries, is tapping into the college’s training expertise to pilot a new Earn and Learn program for Swiss CNC machining.
“There’s a definite need for training on the Swiss CNC machine,” said Kevin J. Flanigan, President and CEO of General Plug & Manufacturing. “Both internal employees who want to elevate their abilities, and people who can look forward to a new career in Swiss machining industry.”
The U.S. Department of Labor projects about 44,100 openings for machinists and tool and die makers each year, on average, over the next decade. With this wave of openings forthcoming, most due to retirement, General Plug & Manufacturing leadership sees an opportunity to introduce a new machining workforce to the Swiss CNC machine. Flanigan said the Swiss CNC machine, which is a segmented machine that can produce extremely small parts quickly and accurately, along with other CNC computer numerical controlled equipment, has helped a new type of manufacturing emerge. And along with it, comes a new required skillset.
The Swiss CNC machining Earn and Learn pilot will begin early 2023 with a cohort of 10 students, most being General Plug & Manufacturing employees. Jim Tyree, General Manager at General Plug & Manufacturing, said the company is heavily invested in Swiss CNC machining, and that partnering with LCCC will provide the detailed, ground-level teaching techniques required to help students master these complex machines.
“LCCC is a golden gem in the community,” said Tyree. “I think a lot more companies could leverage the college, especially in manufacturing training.”
LCCC has built Earn and Learn components into several of its manufacturing pathways because of the benefit to both students and employers. With long-term employee recruitment in mind, and previously proven success in replication, General Plug & Manufacturing and LCCC plan to expand the program after the pilot concludes.
“The college is known for being out in the community, listening to industry needs, and coming up with innovative ways to help meet those needs,” said Chrissy Cooney, program developer for Business Growth Services at LCCC. “These Earn and Learn programs help draw in potential students by not just easing the burden of paying for college but showing them a trajectory for a career and giving them an opportunity to earn an income along the way.”