Ariel McKinstry, 46, said finding a job in the tech industry without the proper training has been tougher than ever.
For two years, McKinstry, a student at Durham Technical Community College, has struggled with finding employment after an ACL injury put him out of work.
That may change for some in Durham and Orange counties. Especially after the N.C. Board of Community Colleges awarded Durham Tech a $119,600 grant for its Back-to-Work Program last week.
The program, established by the N.C. General Assembly, provides pre-employment training for entry-level technical and manufacturing jobs. The grant covers the cost of tuition, fees, and materials for eligible students, as well as providing an individualized career plan assistance. The program gives students the opportunity to receive one of two credentials, BioWork PLUS or Certified Production Technician (CPT).
BioWork trains process technicians for careers in biotechnology, pharmaceutical and chemical manufacturing. A process technician works as part of a team to plan, analyze and control the quality of processes involved in bringing a material from its raw state to a state that can be used for production purposes.
CPT certification leads to an industry-recognized production technician certification from the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council.
“One unique feature of the grant is the industry support we have received,” said Peter Wooldridge, vice president of Corporate and Community Education. “Several local manufacturers have agreed to interview participants upon completion of their credential.”
Sue Jackson, dean of Corporate and Communication Education, said potential students have already started responding.
“We’re very happy to be awarded the grant,” she said. “We already have nine applications and we just put the (information) online.”
The program is targeting 48 students, particularly in the college’s two home counties. Participants must have a high school diploma or GED.
McKinstry said he will apply to the program.
“I've worked within manufacturing and using computers,” he said. “It will kind of lead toward a path of a more stable job future, especially with the way it is growing right now.”
Information sessions will continue into December. The program will kick off in January.