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Machine Shop Skills Training Program Gives Eight Vermont Graduates Chance at Manufacturing Jobs

By James Jardine, Staff Writer, Caledonian Record, August 15, 2023

Eight area students got diplomas Friday from an innovative new training program geared to place unemployed or underemployed adults in the area’s busy manufacturing sector. Both students and potential employers gave the training program very high marks in what appears to be a win-win for workers and employers. Called the Machine Operators Skills Training (MOST) program, classes were held in a mobile classroom at a specially equipped bus parked at the Charles Carter Resource Center in the St. Johnsbury-Lyndon Industrial Park.

Machine Operators Skills Training (MOST)

Students acquired hands-on machine skills in turning, milling, quality control, and programming and codes. For the students, graduation brought a diploma, pizza and soda, and most important, a chance to meet with representatives of Northeast Precision and Vermont Aerospace, two local manufacturers. Most students will get a job interview with those two companies and a third company, NSA Industries. All three businesses worked with the Vermont Department of Labor and the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center to establish the local training classes.

One new graduate who is enthused about the training she received is Jen Dunham, 26, of St. Johnsbury. Dunham heard about the classes when a friend showed her an advertisement for the course in a newspaper. Dunham had never worked in a machine shop previously, but on Friday she earned a certificate and a job interview Monday at 8 a.m. Dunham, who previously worked as a temporary worker, was searching for a better career opportunity. She says she will enjoy machine job work and is looking at her new career as a long-term investment in a field with a future. Dunham said she has recommended the program to friends who are now interested in taking the course.

The course met five days a week for two weeks from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There is no cost to students. Dunham enjoyed her classmates. "We had some laughs in classes," she said. Tom Forgues and John Roy from Vermont Aerospace and Scott Maxwell and Doug John, both of Northeast Precision, were on hand to talk to the graduates. Maxwell said the MOST classes "are covering a lot of the basics." He is enthused about the classes and said the course helped employers who find it difficult to train production workers in the fundamentals on the floor of a busy, production-oriented machine shop. With the basic skills acquired through the course, the employers are free to move their new employee directly into training on a specific machine for a specific job.

Tom Forgues said a certificate showing completion of the course was definitely an advantage when applying for a job at his company. All four men said the courses also helped orient students to the importance of personal skills such as a good attitude, willingness to learn new skills, open-mindedness about new positions and assignments, flexibility, and adaptability. The course also stressed the importance of reliability and dependability. According to Forgues, the fact several students were not among those graduating was actually a strength. The course played a role in screening those who were not willing to make a commitment. "Anybody can learn to run a machine," said Forgues, who added the shops can take people with no experience and train them to become skilled machinists who are valuable employees. But, all four men emphasized the new employee must have the personal willingness to learn and to make a commitment with the employer.

Patricia Giavara is with the Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center in Randolph. She organized the course. The classes were taught by John O’Brian from Waterford, Ireland and Charles Lincicum from Danvers, Mass.

The representatives from Northeast Precision and Vermont Aerospace said the machine shops in the St. Johnsbury-Lyndonville area are "always hiring" and that the companies value employees with good personal work attitudes who stay with a company and are open to continued learning.

© 2006, Caledonian Record.


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