Germanna Community College and New Pathways are looking to put students to work – quickly.
Germanna and the school designed to prepare workers for skilled positions signed a memorandum of understanding to confirm an agreement between the two parties to develop a National Institute for Metalworking Skills workforce training and education program.
At the signing of the agreement Friday, Germanna president Janet Gullickson sang the praises of the work that New Pathways is doing to prepare students for introduction into the workforce.
“This is a thrilling opportunity for Germanna, we have long desired to serve Culpeper County better,” Gullickson said. “We feel this a good start for us, even more important for us is that it serves our businesses as well.”
New Pathways came about because local businesses were struggling to fill skilled positions such as machine operators, machinists and other positions which require workforce training.
“A good partnership means we’ve defined a common problem which, in this case is the skilled workforce, and then we bring resources to solve that problem,” Gullickson said. “For us it’s really about how we can return our stewardship to the community by working closely with our partners.”
Sue Hansohn, Catalpa District representative for the Culpeper County Board of Supervisors and President of New Pathways Tech, Inc., said that working together with the college fills a need that New Pathways had for administrative help.
“We needed that extra piece and Germanna is going to bring that administrative piece,” Hansohn said. “Just being a college, carries so much weight. It’s going to be a great partnership.”
She said that New Pathways hopes to start classes in March. She said that they have the building, at the George Washington Carver facility, donated by the county and the equipment in place, but they needed the support of Germanna to tie it all together.
“A small school, it’s so hard to do it just on your own,” Hansohn said. “There’s so many rules and regulations. You really need to have that other component to help you with that.”
Ben Sherman, Germanna Community College Business and Career Coordinator, said that they expect to start with 10 students and grow from there.
“This is a great opportunity for our region to gain skilled employees,” Sherman said. “It’s a major part of all the industries.”
Sherman said that Germanna has been talking with Ed Dalrymple of New Pathways for some time, as he serves on both boards. Bringing together the school, businesses and workers is the mission of the program.
“It helps us get the students to tie this in with an associate’s degree, so students continue to have a ladder to climb to successful education and training,” Sherman said.
Leon Fincham, Precision Machine Works, a member of the New Pathways board, said his business has been searching for five to six skilled workers for more than a year now.
“You really can’t, (find someone)” Fincham said. “I need five or six right now and I’ve been trying to fill those positions for a year. We advertise all over the country and we can’t get them.”
He said salaries can reach six figures and it’s steady, needed work. However, the emphasis on college degrees in the past have left a void for workers that have the skills to fill the positions.
“Unfortunately, not too many people know about it, that’s why we’re trying to get the word out about what a great career it can be,” Fincham said.
Salary ranges can be and what a long term employment it can entain
New Pathways will provide the training while Germanna will have the classes that tie it all together.
“Even the ones that are coming out of college and they don’t really need to go to college, they need to be strong in path, they’re better off to go into a program like New Pathways,” Fincham said. “They come out with very little or no debt and they’re making a higher salary than with a college degree.”
Dalrymple, owner of Cedar Mountain Stone and Chemung Contracting and member of the New Pathways board, said that his business employs about eight apprentices right now. Those workers then go out to schools to help spread the word.
“It helps people understand you don’t have to have a four-year degree to get a good job,” he said.
Many of the apprentices he hires are switching careers and have an average age of 31, that means there is a gap between 20 and 30 that New Pathways hopes to fill.
“I think the counselors in the schools are starting to realize there are other good opportunities out there,” Dalrymple said. “Quite honestly the businesses need to step up and Germanna has helped, I can’t say enough good things about the college.”
If you’re interested in signing up for the program or want to learn more, call Germanna at (540) 891-3000.