There’s a new pathway to a career in Culpeper County.
New Pathways, Inc., a nonprofit training center for skilled positions, held its grand opening and ribbon cutting last Friday at the George Washington Carver Building along Rt. 15.
A fitting location, the George Washington Carver Building has long been a location where students have learned about bettering themselves through skilled positions, the nonprofit is a sign of partnership between itself, Germanna Community College and Culpeper County.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony, New Pathways board member Frank Bossio noted the change in philosophy that has enveloped the nation – as companies search for skilled workers to fill positions that are lacking. The focus has changed from sending every student to a four-year college to finding ways to prepare students to fill those skilled positions.
“New Pathways provides those opportunities to people who can not go to college or may not want to go to college, or to people who are looking for a midlife career,” Bossio said. “Those are the people we can help and we need to pay attention to that.”
By finding a home at the George Washington Carver Building, it simply continues the work that was started by its namesake, Bossio said.
“It goes back 150 years ago, those are the guys that said, ‘teach people to do for themselves,’” Bossio said. “That’s what gives people the opportunity to be productive in society. Now we’re back to the lesson of 150 years ago.”
Sue Hansohn, President of New Pathways Board, praised the partnership between the county of Culpeper, New Pathways and Germanna. By partnering with Germanna, the school now has filled its administrative needs and by using donations from businesses like DMG MORI – which contributed its $400,000 CMX 1100 V machine for students to train on.
Dr. Janet Gullickson, Germanna Community College, said that the focus on skilled positions is one that is long overdue.
“We know truly that machining is coming back in our country and we need more machinists,” Gullickson said. “I recommend that if you have children, or grandchildren or neighbors to talk to when you go home, you tell those kids to look at programs such as this one.”
She said that the other message to young students was to “get a job,” in an effort to learn a strong work ethic.
That work ethic is something Leon Fincher, of Precision Machine Works, has been searching for. He envisions New Pathways as an opportunity to provide his company with the skilled workers he so sorely requires.
In addition to DMG MORI, other businesses that contributed include Morris South Inc. Machine Tool Distributor, RIDGID Kollmann, Dominion Air & Machinery and Precision Machine Works.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax said the nonprofit is an example of collaboration.
“This is really inspiring in so many ways,” Fairfax said. “This really shows what happens when a community comes together, has vision, perseverance and believes in the power of opportunity.”
Fairfax referenced a recent study that shows 175,000 open skilled jobs in the commonwealth.
“If we strive to fill those jobs through programs like this one, we could help get a billion dollars in income into the pockets of Virginians,” Fairfax said.
The program also benefited from a grant from GO! Virginia.
The $244,300 grant funded purchases for a lathe, a bed mill, a vertical machining center and a DND Control along with American Institute of Welding equipment and shop improvements.
“Seeing the region come together in support of the George Washington Carver Piedmont Technical Education Center has been inspiring,” said Laura Loveday, Culpeper County, Special Projects and Grants Administrator. “Our local industries have been proponents of this idea from the start and have helped bring both the machinist training and welding certification programs to fruition. We are grateful for the GO Virginia grant award and are looking forward to a number of additional programs being added to the campus in the near future.”
The GWC center once housed the Piedmont Vocational School, but it closed in the 1990s. Now, it has become revitalized and hopes to once again fill the workforce with skilled laborers.
“This is a pivotal program, this is a model,” Fairfax said.