MCC Workforce Development to train workers for new Lear plant in Flint

FLINT, Michigan—Racks of graduation robes are lined behind a white board where a class is currently in session. Soon enough another 200-plus students will graduate from the pre-employment training program at Mott Community College Workforce Education Center.

They will graduate ready to work—and sometimes already employed. 

The 430 workers soon to be hired by Lear Corporation for manufacturing jobs at its new Flint plant will be trained here before production in April. When Lear reaches full production—which is expected by 2019—the 156,000-square-foot facility will employ 600 on the former General Motors property on East Hamilton Street locally known as Buick City.

“Providing specialized or customized pre-employment training was something that we developed years ago. Actually sitting down with the employers and figuring out what they need and then us locating the talent and then training them in some of those skills and employment things they’ll need to be successful on the job,” says Dartanyan Jamerson, director of Workforce Development at Mott Community College. 

Workforce Development and Lear are co-hosting a job fair 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at MCC’s Regional Technology Center. 
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The pre-employment training program at the Mott Community College Workforce Education Center typically graduates 200 to 300 students at a time.

“Industry has changed rapidly in the last 10 to 15 years,” Jamerson says. Employers can’t always wait for potential workers with two or four year degrees—or even finish long-term credentialing. Workforce Development fills the gap. “What is it that we need individuals to have coming in the door? … We teach them the other things that they need to know.”

Steve Terry, a current Workforce Development student at MCC, says the tooling and manufacturing training he receives has opened up new opportunities. “My situation is a bit different than other individuals. I was returning to the community because I had just gotten out of prison. Being an ex-con, it’s difficult to get employment.”

He searched for a job for several months before finding Workforce Development. And for those who want to work, it is a golden opportunity to become employable, he says. 

“With the skills that I've learned with the CNC (manufacturing equipment), I've got three companies who are really interested and ready to hire me on the spot once I finish the program,” Terry says.

Shortly after the big announcement that Lear would be coming to Flint, the Workforce Education Center was introduced to staff at Lear.

“We had the opportunity to talk with them about some of the ways we might be able to help with their onboarding for residents of Flint,” says Robert Matthews, associate vice president at MCC for Workforce & Economic Development. 

Lear was able to work with Workforce Development to design an individualized onboarding program. Workers first will be interviewed and hired by Lear before going to Workforce Development at MCC for pre-employment training.

The Workforce Education Center, located in the Garfield Building on North Saginaw Street in Flint, fulfills training and employment needs for companies in Genesee as well as Livingston, Lapeer and Ingham counties. Those companies are specifically coming to Genesee County to recruit skilled workers trained through MCC. Through a partnership with the Mass Transportation Authority, busing is provided to some out of town worksites, too, Matthews says.

Training is funded primarily through federal and state grants as well as private philanthropic organizations and typically at no costs—for individuals who seek the training services as well as companies that utilize them. 

“If someone is looking to reinvent themselves, so to speak, we help them to figure out in some cases some of the things they might want to do and then help them move into those career paths,” Matthews says.

Both Matthews and Jamerson encouraged individuals looking for employment as well as companies looking for skilled labor to consider MCC’s Workforce Development. 

“We have services we can make available and are not at full capacity,” Jamerson says. “In terms of being able to provide this service to employers and persons in Genesee County, there is still room for growth.”