The 11 trainees huddled in New Jersey’s first mobile manufacturing training classroom worked quickly to solve the kind of math problem they aspired one day to solve as newly employed CNC metal-fabrication machine operators.
Jonti Pizarro, 24, of Asbury Park was among those who received a high-five “knuckle bump” from Raritan Valley Community College instructor Conrad Mercurius for
getting the right answer.
Pizarro bubbled with enthusiasm as he explained why he enrolled in the 12-week, CNC metal-fabrication training program at Raritan. Married with three young children
and one on the way, he was captivated by the idea of switching from his job as a waiter to a promising career in
“I never thought I would be in manufacturing, but I like hands-on work,” Pizarro said before the start of class. “Metal is one of the foundations of society, and the ability
to manufacture metal is very powerful.”
Instruction for Pizarro and his classmates took place in a six-ton Mobile Learning Lab that comes equipped with a mobile generator; an air conditioned classroom with
computers for 10 students; high quality machine-fabrication tools; and its own tow truck. It was purchased with a federal grant by Camden County Community College. It is one of two such mobile classrooms that provide training in production technology, CNC metal fabrication and mechatronics under the auspices of the NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development.
“These trailers take our Manufacturing Training Initiative to the next level,” Consortium CEO Sivaraman Anbarasan said, noting that only four of the state’s 19 community
colleges currently have the in-house equipment and staff to do this kind of training. “This mobile classroom can be towed anywhere in the state where it’s needed most.”
The program is part of the Consortium’s Manufacturing Training Initiative, which provides “on-demand” training and credentialing in manufacturing skills for the unemployed or under-employed. Graduating students are matched with local employers seeking to hire individuals with those skills and qualifications. More than 80 percent of graduates have found jobs with local manufacturers since the program got underway in 2012.
Local manufacturers participate in the process by helping to screen program applicants, taking students on tours of their plants, and making a commitment to accept job
applications from program graduates and, if possible, to hire them. Local companies participating in the Raritan program include Custom Alloy, KWG Industries, Nobel
Biocare, and Superior Tools, said Mercurius. Mike Metzgar, executive director of workforce delivery with Raritan, said students are also taught “soft skills”— such as teamwork, problem solving, and reliability (e.g. showing up to work on time)— that are highly prized by manufacturers.