8/12/15 Sandvik-ACC partnership gives students leg up on machining skills

Sandvik-ACC partnership gives students leg up on machining skills
By Isaac Groves, The Times-News 8/12/15  
Reprinted with permission.      

   More high-school students will be taking machining classes at Alamance Community College this fall, and a partnership with the college, schools and manufacturer Sandvik could give them a path from school to a career.

   “Students would complete the machining cohort within our school district, move on into ACC’s program, and Sandvik would provide opportunities, potentially, for paid apprenticeships and also an opportunity for scholarships for students,” said Kent Byrd, program director for secondary education with the Alamance-Burlington School System.

   The first cohort of ABSS students took beginning computer-assisted machining classes last spring. A second cohort of 21 11th- and 12th-graders will take machining classes at ACC this fall. They will earn high school and college credits, and pay no tuition. ABSS will bus them to the college and pay for their books.

   So far, six students, some who took the first series of classes last year and some taking them this fall, are committed to taking the next level of classes in computer-assisted machining, said Robin Bowers, career and technical education director at ABSS, and she expect more to opt in before spring semester.

   Most of last year’s students were seniors, Bowers said, and did not get the chance to take the higher-level classes before they graduated because classes started in the spring, though several of them continued with machining classes at ACC, she said.

   Twelve of those students from the first cohort and some of their parents toured Sandvik’s facility in Mebane at the end of the last school year.

   Sandvik, like a lot of manufacturers, has taken an interest in recruiting young people into machining because there is a shortage of skilled machinists in American manufacturing.

   The Alamance-Burlington Board of Education could sign an agreement on the potential partnership at its meeting Aug. 24, Byrd said.

   School board member Steve Van Pelt said he has heard for years how hard it was for local companies to fill positions locally.

   “So it’s good to know there are Alamance-Burlington students that are going to be going into these programs,” Van Pelt said Monday at the board’s work session, “and I think it’s a real plus for us to be providing the manpower for these jobs.”

   This is separate from the Career Accelerator program that GKN Driveline is working out, Byrd said.

   Barbara Gorman, learning and development manager with GKN, said she expects to have an agreement signed with six other local companies in September. The program, similar to German apprenticeship programs and Apprenticeship 2000 Charlotte, would recruit around 10 students in this school year, and pair them with companies for summer internships and apprenticeships while they take ACC classes in the fall.