C4M Trains A New Generation Of Workers

Louisiana’s industrial boom means tens of thousands of new jobs will become available over the next decade — each requiring a capable and educated employee. A groundbreaking strategy deployed by LED FastStart® — Louisiana’s nation-leading workforce development program — is helping a new generation of Louisiana workers seize those thousands of career opportunities.

Certification for Manufacturing, also known as C4M, represents a streamlined path for acquiring foundational skills. The one-semester certification program prepares students in several initial disciplines within the field of manufacturing. Upon completion of the program, graduates interview for positions with local employers or continue their education in a specialty field.

“It’s really important to be able to capture young men and women who might be good at a career in manufacturing, but who don’t know anything about it yet,” said Jeff Lynn, executive director of workforce development programs for Louisiana Economic Development. “This is one of the best things happening in the state of Louisiana. We’re using it to build a strong workforce.”

In January 2014, two campuses of the Northwest Louisiana Technical College formally adopted the program as part of the college’s Industrial Manufacturing Technology curriculum. The program is also offered at Bossier Parish Community College and Central Louisiana Technical Community College, as well as a number of high schools across the state.

“C4M was developed in direct response to the needs of local manufacturers,” said Dean Laurie Morrow of Northwest Louisiana Technical College. “We are really pleased to be able to offer this.”

The curriculum is taught over 16 weeks and covers the essential skills needed in the contemporary manufacturing environment. Components include: Introduction to Manufacturing (safety, quality, lean manufacturing, teamwork); Tools and Equipment; Automation; and Introduction to Fabrication, Process Technology and Machining. The program incorporates class lectures, laboratory work and independent study.

The program harnesses cutting-edge teaching tools for which FastStart has become famous: All course literature is provided through e-books on iPads or PCs.

“Employers are looking for employees already trained with the necessary advanced skills to be problem-solvers and troubleshooters in a new manufacturing environment involving work with computers, programming and mechatronics,” Morrow said.

After completing the program, students can interview for manufacturing jobs with such industry partners as Alliance Compressors, International Paper, Weyerhaeuser and others. If graduates choose to continue their education, they can fast-track specific industry certifications and enter the workforce just two to three semesters later as millwrights or instrumentation/electrical specialists.

One of the most innovative components of the program, Morrow said, is that graduates leave with an OSHA 30-hour safety certification, along with six hours of credit toward a bachelor of science in engineering technology at a local four-year university.

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