U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris on Thursday, Oct. 11 joined Central Lakes College leaders and partners at “A Day of Celebration” to inaugurate the Regional Advanced Manufacturing Retraining (RAMR) program at Wilson Tool, White Bear Lake. The innovative partnership involving CLC and three other Minnesota schools over the next three years aim to prepare workers in Minnesota and Wisconsin for advanced manufacturing careers. A $13.1 million federal grant announced Sept. 19 assigned consortium leadership to Central Lakes College, Brainerd and Staples. CLC’s educational partners are St. Cloud Technical and Community College, St. Cloud; Pine Technical College, Pine City; and the 360 Manufacturing and Applied Engineering Center of Excellence, Bemidji State University, Bemidji. Images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/58518185@N04/
The program will connect foreign trade-impacted workers, other dislocated workers, veterans and incumbent workers in need of skill enhancement with comprehensive advanced manufacturing training and wrap-around student services.
The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing and administering the program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.
The intent is to counter the loss of jobs that have often moved overseas. More than 8,700 manufacturing workers in Minnesota have either lost their jobs due to foreign trade or are under constant danger of job loss since January 1, 2007.
Deputy Secrectary Harris said that, as part of a national investment in strengthening the middle class, the RAMR program “will give 3,900 people a chance to move into middle-class jobs that are long-lasting.” He called the push by the Obama Administration to foster community college training for manufacturing jobs “the antidote to outsourcing.”
Officials predict RAMR will result in a pool of high-skilled technicians ready to work throughout Minnesota and two counties in Wisconsin.
Eligible students will work with dedicated advisors who will provide intensive advising and support services to ensure that potential barriers to student success are identified and that students receive the assistance needed to stay focused and successful.
“We are excited about the opportunity to better serve the manufacturing sector of the state’s economy with this grant,” said Dr. Larry Lundblad, president of CLC. “The most economically distressed rural regions will benefit the most.”
The college’s Staples campus will be home to new programs in plastics and rapid prototyping, with as many as a dozen employees assigned duties as instructors, coordinators, case managers, project director, education specialist, and lab assistant.
The grant includes approximately $3.1 million in new manufacturing equipment.
Wilson Tool, with a 475-person workforce, is one of about 18 manufacturing companies that have signed on to fill high-skilled job openings with workers trained on campus, online, and at their manufacturing plant. The firm plans to hire 50 new machinists, engineers, and interns this year.
Wilson Tool makes machine tools and dies for the metal stamping and punch press machines used by Toro, Polaris, Pentair, John Deere, and other manufacturers.
The $13,100,920 awarded to the consortium will be divided as follows: CLC -- $3,748,561; SCTCC -- $3,953,961; PTC -- $3,209,312; 360 Center -- $2,189,086.
Other speakers Thursday were Jeff Wig, dean of career and technical programs at CLC; Brian Robinson, CEO of Wilson Tool; Dr. Robert Musgrove, president of PTC; Dr. Joyce Helens, president of SCTCC; and college students in re-training. One of those is Mike Bergren of Little Falls, a laid-off VERSA paper employee.