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Manufacturing Skills Institute calls South Boston home

South Boston News
SHOWING OFF THE NEW BANNER —Bo Cherry, R&D CAMEE technician, Dr. Betty Adams (SVHEC Executive Director), Katherine DeRosear ( Virginia Manufacturers Association Director of Workforce Development), Brett Vassey, Virginia Manufacturers Association president & CEO, Paul Dockery, ECPI University Director of Business Development, David Kenealy, SVHEC Director of R&D, Dr. Doug Corrigan, Riverstone Energy Center executive director, Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens, SVHEC director of Workforce Services, and Josh Brooks, R&D technician, display the new banner of the MSI. (SOMcL photo)
SoVaNow.com / December 17, 2012
South Boston has been chosen as the home of the new Manufacturing Skills Institute, a public-private partnership to develop skilled workers for advanced manufacturing companies that operate in the region and across Virginia.

The new MSI, a collaboration between the Virginia Manufacturers Association and ECPI University, will be housed at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, where government, education and business leaders gathered for Friday’s announcement.

“This is unique and a gem,”said Brett Vassey, president and CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association, who said the new center will provide education and training which in turn will spur the creation of manufacturing jobs throughout the region.

The Manufacturing Skills Institute will operate in partnership with the SVHEC, the Modeling & Simulation Center of Excellence at Riverstone Energy Center, the National Center for Coatings Application, Research and Education (C-CARE) and the National Technology Transfer at the Research & Development Center for Advanced Manufacturing & Energy Efficiency (R&D CAMEE), located at the SVHEC Innovation Center.

The aim of the new institute is to make Southside Virginia “a destination for workforce training” and among the few places in the United States with a broad spectrum of workforce training initiatives aimed specifically at the advanced manufacturing sector.

“Workforce education is at the heart of our mission to advance the economic potential of Southern Virginia through education, innovation, and collaboration,” said Dr. Betty H. Adams, Executive Director of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center.

“We are placing our focus on those workforce sectors identified as being job-producers now and in the future. Advanced manufacturing is one of these areas, which makes the Manufacturing Skills Institute a perfect fit for us.

“Becoming a destination for workforce training, not just in the region or state but for the nation, is very exciting,” she said.

The new institute will provide education and training programs for both existing and emerging technology skills, with the goal of making Southern Virginia an internationally-recognized hub for advanced manufacturing training and education.

“This is going to put us on the map. It’s world-class and a way to be an example for those around us,” said Dr. Doug Corrigan, director of the Riverstone Energy Center. “We have some of the world’s best resources right here in South Boston.”

Virginia’s more than 5,000 manufacturers employ some 230,000 people and account for more than 80 percent of the state’s exports. With the loss of low-skill manufacturing to low-wage foreign competition, the manufacturing sector needs a pipeline it can rely on for workers skilled in high-tech manufacturing operations, officials say.

Vassey, with the Virginia Manufacturers Association, said the Manufacturing Skills Institute will offer world-class education and skills training “that leads to competency-based, industry recognized and stackable credentials.” He said programs would be phased in to meet current and future job requirements in advanced technology industries.

Vassey described the institute as a “critical hub” for workforce training and argued it has become too expensive for any one organization to provide the needed skills training in the rapidly changing world of advanced manufacturing.

ECPI, a private university that specializes in workplace skills training, will offer select advanced manufacturing skills certificates that translate into college credits. ECPI offers associate, bachelor, and master degrees, as well as diploma programs.

Kevin Paveglio, president of ECPI University’s Virginia Beach campus, told those assembled Friday that “the move to establish the MSI is the next logical step in providing a focused source for manufacturing skills development.

“It is our vision to expand the MSI with additional value-added partners and become a recognized industry leader in skills training.”

David Kenealy of the SVHEC added that “we make things here” at the Innovation Center, and the Manufacturing Skills Institute will expand on the capabilities of the Innovation Center.

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