RCBI expands women-in-manufacturing training to north central WV

Sept. 28, 2017

A successful training effort at the Robert C. Byrd Institute (RCBI) is expanding to address industry needs across north central West Virginia. The Step Up for Women Pre-Apprenticeship Program will begin offering tuition-free classes to women at the RCBI Bridgeport Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center in 2018.

“RCBI is ramping up our efforts to prepare skilled workers that West Virginia companies need to succeed and grow,” said Charlotte Weber, RCBI Director & CEO. “Manufacturers in north central West Virginia express difficulty finding individuals with the industry-focused skills they need. By providing a fast-start pre-apprenticeship initiative, we are expanding our manufacturing workforce footprint.”

The 10-week Step Up for Women program prepares women for manufacturing careers, teaching them the skills they need to succeed as machinists or in related industrial occupations. The initiative is a partnership between West Virginia Women Work and RCBI’s Apprenticeship Works, the National Advanced Manufacturing Apprenticeship Partnership.

Women enrolled in the pre-apprenticeship program receive free tuition and travel reimbursements as well as work clothes, boots and other safety gear. Their training prepares them for entry level manufacturing jobs and apprenticeships.

West Virginia Women Work received a $311,000 Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to expand the recognized training to two new sites in West Virginia: the Advanced Manufacturing Pre-Apprenticeship at RCBI Bridgeport and a Construction Pre-Apprentice in the Wheeling area.

RCBI Bridgeport will provide machinist instructors, classroom space and access to its advanced manufacturing equipment as part of women in manufacturing’s expansion into north central West Virginia.

“This opportunity will have a tremendous impact on not only our organization, but employers that need skilled labor and the women of West Virginia [who] need gainful employment to support their families,” said Kristina Szcyrbak, executive director of West Virginia Women Work. “We know from decades of experience that when women excel our state benefits.”

The Step Up for Women Manufacturing program began at RCBI Huntington in 2016. To date, 36 women have graduated from the program, most finding employment as full-time machinists or paid apprentices.

RCBI’s Apprenticeship Works’ Step Up for Women program is offered twice a year at RCBI’s Huntington Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center. Applications are being accepted for classes that begin in January 2018. For more information, contact Melinda Perron, program coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 304.528.9991.