September 11, 2013
By Dan Namowitz
A state-funded workforce development program in Minnesota may provide up to 60 employment opportunities at Cirrus Aircraft, where meeting production demands will require more assembly workers, the company said in a news release.
Duluth, Minn.-based Cirrus announced a partnership with Lake Superior College to develop an aircraft assembly pre-employment program designed to prepare low-income applicants for assemblers’ jobs at the manufacturer of all-composite aircraft.
The program, based at the 4,500-student, two-year college in Duluth, is funded by a grant from the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program, administered by the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development.
Program grants provide up to $400,000 to educational institutions to develop and deliver training specific to the needs of the participating business. The business matches the grant with a cash or in-kind contribution, says an online overview of the partnership program.
"Through this partnership with Lake Superior College, candidates will receive the necessary training to prepare them for an assembly job at Cirrus," said Pat Waddick, president and chief operating officer of Cirrus Aircraft. "To keep up with production demands, we are projecting the addition of 60-80 new assemblers by the end of the year. We are proud to support Lake Superior College's mission to develop our local workforce."
Lake Superior College President Patrick Johns said the project "highlights how higher education, government and industry can work together to develop a workforce for the region's emerging aviation and manufacturing sector."
The college’s participation offers an example of a local educational institution using a state-funded grant to help "meet the needs of a regional employer," he said.
Classes for the first group of participants begin Oct.14, with Cirrus personnel to instruct at least 20 percent of the courses, and provide site visits and lab work at the company's Duluth facility, Cirrus said. The three-week curriculum includes courses in aircraft structure and terminology, composite and mechanical assembly, production systems, and quality systems.
Participants who successfully complete the courses will be extended an opportunity to interview with Cirrus. Those hired will begin paid on-site training and evaluation of their qualification to perform assembly work at Cirrus.
Information about the program is available from SOAR Career Solutions by email or by calling 218/722-3126.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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