Collaboration is key to building strong workforce

By Charlotte Weber

Thanks to many strategic partners who are pulling the rope in the same direction, our moment as a state is here! We are building momentum and collaborating across academic institutions, government agencies and private organizations.

This teamwork is inspiring and impactful. Look no further than the recent new job announcements across our state. Look no further than our innovative businesses that are committed to growing jobs in West Virginia – those producing critical components for the aerospace, agricultural, automotive, defense, energy, maritime, medical, mining, solar, and transportation industries – to name just a few.

What do all these businesses have in common: a constant need for highly skilled workers.

West Virginia also is home to a distinctive Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center – RCBI, as it is commonly known, that for more than 30 years has worked in collaboration with our state’s Community and Technical College System as well as multiple higher education institutions in West Virginia and the surrounding region to develop and implement market-driven, accessible workforce solutions that meet the specific needs of our manufacturing community.

RCBI partners with Mountwest Community and Technical College to offer the nationally recognized Machinist/CNC Technology Program as well as state-certified advanced Welding Technology Program. These programs consistently have boasted a 95 percent job placement rate. They also feature short-term Manufacturing Fast Track options that offer flexible training throughout the year and include online learning as well as customizable training that is conveniently delivered either at the customer site or at RCBI.

To complement our work with the new and growing Marshall University Aviation programs, RCBI is launching a fresh aviation-focused welding curriculum. This set of courses will supply our aviation companies the skilled workers they require to meet their welding needs. In addition, don’t be surprised to see RCBI’s mobile welding lab set up on site at companies across the state. Our convenient mobile lab offers MIG, TIG, Stick, and Flux-cored training – when you need it – where you need it – and at your pace, of course.

To bridge the skills gap in manufacturing created by retiring workers and the adoption of new technologies, we’re continuing to expand our workforce initiatives to attract women and minorities to manufacturing. Further, RCBI is preparing to launch another military veteran-focused fast-track training program to cultivate more CNC (computer numerical control) machine operators. Many of the skills and attributes required of military personnel, such as attention to detail and follow-through, make veterans ideal candidates for manufacturing careers.

RCBI is proud to join forces with the West Virginia Development Office, our Community and Technical College System, and other organizations working hard to develop and deliver in-demand workforce programs that not only meet current industry demand but also promise a future-focused impact to help attract more companies to the Mountain State.

RCBI is committed to innovation and collaboration and will continue to expand our training programs to better serve the needs of our manufacturing community. Our collective strength can help create opportunities like we have never seen before.

To learn more about how RCBI can meet individuals’ or companies’ training needs, contact Carol Howerton, senior strategic advisor for workforce development, at or 304-781-1680.

Let’s get to work!

Charlotte Weber is director & CEO of the Robert C. Byrd Institute and vice president for federal programs at Marshall University.

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