NIC opens condensed, evening machining program to fill employee void

The machining industry in the North Idaho and Spokane region has readily-available jobs that are going unfilled because there are not enough qualified individuals in the job pool to fill the void. That is a problem that North Idaho College is poised to help fix.
A brainstorming session between NIC professional-technical leadership and employers in the industry was held in early December to discuss what might be done to help fill the job vacancies. A total of 44 machining companies were invited and of those, 14 companies attended the summit identifying more than 80 vacant machining jobs within their organizations.
In response to the local opportunities from machining employers, NIC is planning to start a condensed evening offering of its Machine Technology program this January that will serve as a more convenient option for working adults.
“To solve this problem we needed to find a way to attract students to the NIC Machine Technology program, which is not currently at capacity,” said NIC Trades and Industry Division Chair Jim Cultra. “In order to meet the industry’s needs, we needed to find a way to provide quality training to students in the least amount of time so they could finish quickly and go straight to work.”
Students in the new condensed machining program will attend 3.5 hour evening theory and lab sessions Mondays through Fridays from 5 to 8:30 p.m. The coursework will cover blueprint reading, measuring, machine set up and operation involving lathes, milling machines, grinders and Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machines.
“It’s geared toward nontraditional students that can’t just stop providing for their families by quitting a job and going back to school,” Cultra said.
NIC’s current Machine Technology program is a nine-month professional-technical program, yielding graduates a technical certificate after the first year that prepares students for entry-level employment in the machining industry. Students who complete a second year in the program qualify for either an advanced technical certificate or an associate of applied science degree.
With the evening offering, students will be able to enroll in the Machine Technology program in January and be ready to work by mid-August. Students would have also met the requirements to continue working toward an associate’s degree or advanced certificate if they so chose.
“We want to be as flexible as possible to make this training accessible and achievable,” Cultra said.
NIC currently has 100 percent placement of its students to machining jobs within the service area, and with commitment from various employers in the region, Cultra said he is confident that students who complete the program will have a job waiting for them in August.
“There is a serious need for qualified machinists that we struggle with consistently throughout the year,” said Manpower’s Debbie Swearingen, the onsite manager for Honeywell. Swearingen attended the Machine Technology industry summit meeting to give input on how to fill job vacancies in the industry with well-trained workers. “I’m impressed with NIC’s responsiveness and willingness to adapt to meet this need.”
According to an Idaho Commerce and Labor Occupational Employment and Wage Survey published in 2005, the average wage for a machinist in North Idaho is $15.34 and $15.91 in Spokane County.
“There is a lot of opportunity here for a good career with year round work, benefits and growth potential,” Cultra said.
Only 13 spots are available in the condensed, evening Machine Technology program offering, which begins Jan. 17. Apply now or call the NIC Admissions Office at (208) 769-3311.
Information: NIC Trades and Industry Division Chair Jim Cultra at (208) 769-3435.

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NIC Trades and Industry Division Chair Jim Cultra, (208) 769-3435

Posted: Monday, Dec. 19, 2005

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