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Manchin lauds Panhandle job effort

January 12, 2006|By ROBERT SNYDER

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - An educational program that will allow employees at an area airplane manufacturer to earn a college education was hailed by West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin as part of a number of efforts to improve the state's workforce.

As part of an hourlong State of the State address Wednesday, Manchin said a collaborative initiative between James Rumsey Technical Institute, the Community and Technical College of Shepherd, Workforce West Virginia and Sino Swearingen Aircraft Co. that will develop a training center for students and employees, was one example of his administration's efforts to improve work force skills and expand employment opportunities in West Virginia.

"So to create a better-trained work force to attract these new jobs in 2006, we are using our colleges and community colleges in partnership with business and labor to train workers for the real jobs and specific skills needed in the growing industries of West Virginia," Manchin said.

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"I tell companies all the time - you provide the opportunities, we'll provide the trained work force," Manchin said.

Placing the training center directly in Sino Swearingen's work site will ensure that students are being taught the specific skills that the company needs, Manchin said.

CTC President Peter Checkovich said such a program is also beneficial to workers.

"We find when you offer (classes) on site, individuals are very appreciative and much more likely to stick with it," Checkovich said in an interview Wednesday following the governor's speech.

The initiative will allow employees to take individual classes for college credit, as well as earn certification and associate's degrees, using the work place as a classroom lab, Checkovich said.

Checkovich said schools' representatives will meet with officials from Sino Swearingen at 10 a.m. today to discuss the educational collaboration.

"What's probably going to take place ... is Sino is going to make their needs known to us," said Checkovich, adding similar training initiatives have been implemented regionally at Quad Graphics, Royal Vendors Inc. and at General Motors.

Sino Swearingen, which just received type certification from the Federal Aviation Administration to begin production of it SJ30-2 corporate jet late last year, employs about 140 workers at its Martinsburg facility.

Checkovich said a preliminary proposal developed over the last few days includes a work force training program that would allow workers to be eligible to earn as much as 21 credit hours in general studies education, such as English and math, 30 hours in technical coursework and 13 credits for on-the-job training.

Checkovich said a pre-employment training option for the schools' students also could be included as part of the collaboration.

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