By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: Jan. 26, 2018 | 11:25 a.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – One of the economic development gems of Prince George County and the region will soon be receiving a boost as millions in funding for a new state-of-the-art apprentice academy has been approved by federal officials.
According to officials with the Crater Planning District Commission and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing, the United States Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Agency, EDA has formally awarded CCAM a $3.15 million grant to build an apprentice academy in Prince George County.
This academy would be built on the grounds of the CCAM facility at 5520 W. Quaker Road just of U.S. Route 460 and Interstate 295 and a short drive from Rolls-Royce Crosspointe.
When fully operational, with expected completion in late 2019, the Apprentice Academy will offer registered apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing centered on high-demand, high-wage positions in welding, machining and industrial maintenance.
Along with the millions in federal dollars thanks to the $3.15 million grant, the project will be bolstered by nearly $10 million in state funds in order to make the apprentice academy a reality in Prince George County.
The academy’s first three programs will include machinery, welding, and mechatronics. Certification standards will be defined by the National Institute of Metalworking Skills (NIMS) for machinist, the American Welding Society for welders, and the NIMS and Siemens Mechatronics Systems Certification Program for industrial maintenance mechanics (mechatronics). The study of mechatronics combines mechanical, electronic components, computer systems, and human interface.
William Powers, president and CEO of CCAM spoke to the importance of the work being done at the Prince George-based facility and how their efforts can have positive impacts on workforces around America.
“Automation and outsourcing jobs to low-cost countries, which negatively impact manufacturing employment, can only be addressed by providing our workers with up-to-date skills required by the marketplace,” Powers said following the funding announcements, with his comments echoed by Kelly Marchese, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and federal supply chain leader.
“Advanced manufacturing is an opportunity to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.,” Marchese said. “To realize that goal, we will need both public and private organizations’ commitment to apprenticeship programs such as CCAM to develop the much-needed skilled workforce. This is the inflection point — we cannot blink.”
The academy will take a practical approach to training, said CCAM Workforce Director Bruce Sobczak. “Our vision is to house a true ‘earn-while-you-learn’ apprenticeship model including structured classroom time, virtual instruction on an industry-driven curriculum, hands-on paid apprentice positions with industry employers, and recognized industry certifications and credentials. We will build upon the current workforce training network from the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission’s (TRRC) partnership with CCAM, including the Advanced Manufacturing Centers of Excellence and the Transitioning Veteran’s Programs located in Virginia.”
CCAM members and supporters applauded the federal and state government’s decision to fund construction of the Apprentice Academy.
Tobacco Commission Executive Director Evan Feinman added, “Having a well-trained workforce that is able to fill jobs as they become available is critical to the Tobacco Commission’s goal of developing a diverse economy in the areas we serve. Our partnership with CCAM has already paid dividends by improving our ability to attract top employers from around the world, and this project is another big step in the right direction.”
“The timing of these awards is fortuitous as the CCAM Advanced Manufacturing Apprentice Academy will create high paying, high demand jobs in advanced manufacturing which aligns with the goals and objectives of the GO Virginia initiative for region 4 and the Commonwealth,” said Dennis Morris, Crater Planning District Commission Executive Director.
Once completed, the new facility will be called the “CCAM Apprentice Academy and the website will be http://apprenticeacademy.com.