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CCAC’s Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprenticeship program graduates first students

CCAC IMT Apprenticeship graduatesPITTSBURGH­­—The Community College of Allegheny County is pleased to announce that the first cohort of 10 students has successfully completed the college’s new Industrial Manufacturing Technician (IMT) Apprenticeship program, which prepares workers while helping manufacturers to develop a highly-skilled workforce. The participating companies—Impact Guard, McConway & Torley and Almatis—enrolled their employees so they could acquire new skills and advance in their positions. The CCAC IMT Apprenticeship program is provided at no cost to students and includes on-the-job training, classroom time and online learning modules—the 3,000 hours of total learning experience is broken down into 2,736 hours of on-the-job training and 264 hours of coursework scheduled over an 18-month period. The students continue to work full time and earn a wage while they learn and gain nationally recognized credentials. 

Since completing the program, several of the apprentices have advanced to lead technician positions. Sam Osten, president of Impact Guard in Leetsdale, said the company is working on developing a self-directed workforce. The employees doing the work will be empowered to make decisions and will be vital members of the team, “not someone who just shows up.” He explained that helping the employees to advance in their skill sets is a win-win, as the workers become more valuable to the company while moving up in their careers. Osten is planning to enroll additional employees as soon as possible.  

“This was a great opportunity, and I’d like to get more people through the program,” said Osten. “We’ve got to develop as much talent as we can across the community. It creates more opportunities for people to come into manufacturing.” 

Eight additional apprentices, from McConway & Torley and SKC Inc., are currently enrolled and will complete the program in about six months. According to Mary Jean Gula, former IMT coordinator, some of the graduates are continuing on a “promising career path” and further advancing their skills by taking classes at CCAC in Mechatronics Technology, which combines skills and knowledge in electrical and mechanical systems, electronics, robotics and control systems. 

Deb Kraemer, Workforce Development Apprenticeship instructor at CCAC, taught the Communications for Industry and Mathematics for Industry classes to one group of the apprentices. When the pandemic hit, the instruction transitioned from the classroom to Zoom, and many of her students had no previous experience with Microsoft Office or online learning. Despite their lack of experience with digital tools, the students learned how to use Word to complete assignments, write professional emails and, as a final project, to create PowerPoint presentations regarding company improvements. Several of their supervisors expressed interest in the ideas they presented.

“It was great to help build their confidence, and they did an awesome job on presentation day,” said Kraemer. “The students were so dedicated, and they really wanted to succeed and do well in this program.” 

One graduate, Larry Convery, a machine expert with McConway & Torley for 18 years, found the program to be valuable in many aspects. It was a good refresher for him while helping younger workers expand their mechanical abilities. He also learned leadership skills that will help him advance in his career when he is ready to move into a supervisory position.

As Convery puts it, “The leadership class gave you new ways of thinking, of how to be successful at being a leader.” 

To learn more about how the CCAC IMT program is helping to build a pipeline of skilled talent in the region, visit ccac.edu/workforce/industrial-manufacturing.php.

Photo: Almatis employees Wade Dobson (at left) and John Ream receive their certificates for completion of the CCAC IMT Apprenticeship program. Also pictured are George Lucey, Almatis production manager, and Mary Jean Gula, former IMT coordinator.