CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — As early as next month, the Franklin County Career and Technology Center will offer a new mechanical-assembly training program created through a partnership with Volvo Construction Equipment designed to give students an edge in today's tough job market.
Career Center Director Keith Yohn said students selected for the new course "will have an advantage in the labor market over other students they graduate with."
As the need for workers with assembly-related skills continues to grow, Yohn said this partnership would provide a ready-made workforce.
"It's a huge benefit to the students of this school to have that opportunity to participate in this. It will provide them with a labor market advantage in high-skill, high-wage opportunities in this community," Yohn said.
Representatives from Volvo Construction Equipment attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday at the career center off U.S. 11 south of Chambersburg to launch the course.
The new course, which is set to begin next month, will teach the principles of assembly and "Lean" manufacturing, and provides students with hands-on exposure to assembly techniques in a manufacturing environment, according to Volvo officials.
Lean is a production practice that considers wasteful any expenditure of resources for a goal other than the creation of value for the end customer, and thus a target for elimination, according to the Lean Enterprise Institute website.
"We're trying to create a pipeline of assemblers using Lean manufacturing principles getting in at the lowest level possible so when students first get introduced to assembling, they will start to learn these principles that will not only benefit Volvo but other manufacturers in the area," said Sean Glennon, vice president and general manager of Volvo's Shippensburg Plant.
As part of Volvo's $100 million strategy to bring three new products — wheel loaders, haulers and excavators — to its Shippensburg plant in the next three to four years, Glennon said the company would need a skilled work force.
"This (partnership with the career centers) is building that pipeline so when we need workers, hopefully we can pull workers from this pipe, and they'll already have the basic skills to help us assemble," he said.
Three career center teachers have completed Volvo's 40-hour training program and are set to offer the course to Franklin County career center students in the agricultural mechanics, diesel mechanics and welding programs, Yohn said.
Yohn said eventually the course would be offered to students taking auto body and collision repair, auto mechanics, automated machining and engineering.
"I think what Volvo is doing really has a transformative effect on workforce development and education not only for Franklin County but also for the region .... I think this is creating a real-world experience for students who are going to come out of this environment very employable from the day of graduation," said Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp.
In addition to the program for career center students, Yohn said local manufacturers would be able to use the training space for specialized training. And the center's adult education agreement with Penn State Mont Alto will also allow the course to be offered to the general public in the future.