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Two job programs get mixed results

October 18, 2003|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Elected representatives at the 16th Annual Quad State Legislative Conference heard two stories Friday about job training centers, one of success and one of frustration.

Chuck McClain, director of the Regional Printing Institute in Martinsburg, said the program has worked well with major printing companies in the region.

The institute is now going to expand to include "medium-sized" companies, he said at the annual event attended by representatives of Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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"I do not see any reason why this will not continue," McClain said.

Printing is the biggest industry in the quad-state region, with more than 8,000 employees working at more than 200 printing and related companies, he said.

Noting where he was speaking, McClain said, "I am the epitome of the Quad State area," he said.

He lives in Greencastle, Pa., spends money while traveling through Washington County to his job in Martinsburg and works with companies in Virginia.

Anthony Drury, director of the Machine Trades Institute at Hagerstown Community College, said the program to train machinists has been less successful.

He has met with people from numerous companies to encourage their participation, Drury said. From the results of a survey the group created a list of courses employees can take.

Classes were scheduled to begin this year, he said.

"You have all heard the question, 'What happens if you throw a party and no one comes?' We had no company send anyone for training. We were obviously very disappointed," he said.

Companies said they would send someone but "they have not backed up their words," he said.

Since then, he and others are going back and meeting with the companies to try again, he said.

Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., said his county heard companies talking about the need for trained machinists and the institute was supposed to help with that.

"But when we asked them to step up, they didn't step up," he said.

Pennsylvania State Sen. Terry Punt, R-Franklin, also expressed frustration that companies want machinists but don't want to participate in the institute.

"The interest is not there. Somehow we need to get that interest back," Punt said.

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