Manufacturing: Not just for men


Nov. 18. Industry-supported training programs are producing qualified workers in for all manner of manufacturers, from coffee to fuel systems, according to Rowan Cabarrus Community College. No industry in this area is creating jobs in larger numbers and growing faster than manufacturing. Local manufacturers like Perdue Foods and Agility Fuel Systems are partnering with chambers and economic development officials to build new training programs that include women.

“At this point, our classes are about half women and half men. There is absolutely no reason a woman cannot become a Certified Production Technician and find a great job in the manufacturing field – gender is simply not a barrier,” said Donna Ludwig, a program coordinator at RCCC.

Manufacturing jobs are among the fastest growing in the nation. In fact, 13.7 percent of private-sector jobs are in manufacturing, according to Robert Van Geons, executive director for RowanWORKS, Economic Development. They are well-paying jobs with benefits, with an average annual salary of $68,887.

The growth and popularity of these clean, high-tech jobs means growing demand for qualified, competent employees to fill these careers.

Local manufacturers support the program through scholarships.

“Our scholarship fund, financed by local employers, ensures that we can offer this training at no cost to the individual. They also plan to hire many of the graduates,” said Craig Lamb, vice president of corporate and continuing education at Rowan-Cabarrus.

Individuals train 20 hours a week for a total of eight weeks. Upon completion, they will be qualified for 90 percent of manufacturing jobs in our area.

The women in each class have bonded.

“When we first started the class, the ladies sat together. It was nice to know we had each other’s support. We were also willing to speak up and ask questions, which I think ultimately put the guys at ease, too,” said graduate Monica Barbee.

She was not alone, of course. “I did feel like I had to prove myself a bit more,” said Charlotte Alexander, now employed with Agility Fuel Systems. “But we bonded together and have supported each other throughout the process.”


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