Teaching marketable skills: Training center program benefits graduates, employers
For one month Arlene Poitra immersed herself in learning how to use power tools, read blueprints and run a forklift. She's optimistic those skills will help her land a job in Bismarck, where she is moving.
For one month Arlene Poitra immersed herself in learning how to use power tools, read blueprints and run a forklift.
She's optimistic those skills will help her land a job in Bismarck, where she is moving. She already has talked to an interested employer.
"Once I told him about the things I knew how to do, his interest in me was up," she said.
For the past year, the Skills Development Project at the Skills and Technology Training Center in Fargo has trained new Americans and underemployed workers for better jobs in manufacturing, welding, truck driving and the certified nursing assistant field.
The results have been better workers for local employers and higher wages for the program's graduates, said Janie Hulett, director of the project.
The average wage for 31 graduates now employed in the manufacturing, welding and truck driving fields is $9.27, which is an improvement over minimum wage at $5.15. Many of those jobs also include benefits such as health insurance, Hulett said.
"There are so many opportunities out there," she said. "We want them to be successful."
The manufacturing class was developed with the help of local companies that couldn't find enough qualified employees for their businesses.
In mid-July, five students graduated from the project's monthlong manufacturing program. Daniel Villarreal was hired by Cardinal Insulation Glass to work in its glass-cutting department immediately upon graduation.
Jenni Day, who hires for the company's production line, said students who complete the Skills Development Project show they have the initiative and ability to work for Cardinal Glass.
"I'm impressed with the fact they've gone the extra mile to commit to the program and graduate. I know then they are competent and trainable," she said. "I wish we had more programs like this in Fargo-Moorhead."
Villarreal's classmates are either relocating or, for personal reasons, aren't pursuing a job immediately, Hulett said.
Truc Nguyen registered for the most recent class just before being offered a job at GPK Products, a manufacturer of PVC pipe fittings in Fargo. She decided to complete the class anyway and doesn't regret her decision.
"The curriculum is so good," she said. "We're equipped to go right into the workplace and start because we've used the tools, we know how to read blueprints."
She also appreciated the program's emphasis on soft skills, such as problem-solving and teamwork.
Integrity Windows and Doors is one Fargo business that helped develop the program and has hired some of the graduates.
"The real attractive part is they've used simple hand tools and pneumatic tools," said Tom Bonau, human resource manager at Integrity. "They have the confidence to get the jobs we have. As the program grows, it will only get better."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Erin Hemme Froslie at (701) 241-5534