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NJ’s First Mobile Manufacturing Training Classroom Makes Debut at MCCC


WEST WINDSOR – Calling it the future of manufacturing training in New Jersey, county college officials and state Labor Commissioner Harold Wirths unveiled the state’s first mobile manufacturing training classroom at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) on April 25.

Sivaraman Anbarasan, executive director of the NJ Community College Consortium, said the mobile classroom is designed to train the unemployed in advanced manufacturing skills anywhere in the state where demand is greatest.

The Consortium coordinates the NJ Manufacturing Training Initiative, a two-year-old program that brings the training resources of the state’s 19 community colleges to local manufacturers. A chronic shortage of skilled production workers has long hampered the ability of manufacturers in New Jersey and the nation to keep their production lines humming.

State Labor Commissioner Harold Wirths and Mercer County Community College President Patricia Donohue inspect equipment in the state’s first mobile manufacturing training classroom.

The so-called “trailer” weighs over six tons fully loaded, has three axles, and comes equipped with a mobile generator, a 384-square-foot classroom with computers for 10 students, hands-on training equipment, and its own tow truck. It was purchased with a federal grant by Camden County Community College, where it was assembled. It will provide training in production technology, CNC metal fabrication and mechatronics.

It is one of two such trailers that will be deployed in New Jersey. The second trailer will be on the road soon.

“These trailers take our Manufacturing Training Initiative to the next level,” Anbarasan said, noting that only four of the state’s 19 community colleges are equipped to do this kind of training. “This mobile classroom can be towed anywhere in the state where it’s needed most.”

State Labor Commissioner Wirths said he was dismayed at the height of the 2009 recession to be cutting checks for 400,000 unemployed New Jerseyans while good jobs were going begging at many manufacturing plants across the state.

Wirths lauded the NJ Manufacturing Training Initiative for its success in starting to fill that void. Local manufacturers who participate in the training process also agree to hire one or more of the graduates. His message to manufacturers: “We’re going to train them, and you’re going to hire them.” The NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development has supported the initiative with millions of dollars in training grants.

Wirths said people who think manufacturing is not important to the future of New Jersey, “don’t know what they are talking about.” He pointed out that manufacturing employment in the state has enjoyed a recent uptick.

Over the past two years, 97 individuals have been trained, graduated and certified in production technology, metal fabrication, and CNC machining through the NJ Manufacturing Training Initiative; 80 percent of them have been placed in jobs with local manufacturers. The training was provided at the county colleges of Bergen, Camden, Cumberland, Middlesex, as well as at the NJ Institute of Technology and the Passaic County Technical Institute.



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