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Manufacturing workers receive training at San Jacinto College

September 30, 2018

San Jacinto College is training more than 150 people for a consortium of manufacturers to upgrade skills and prepare potential new hires for jobs in an industry in which skilled workers are in short supply.

The training program is funded with $275,000 grant from the Texas Workforce Commission. About 140 people in the program are already working for local manufacturers. Another 14 are potential hires expected to move into jobs when the current occupants are promoted. Company officials estimated that about 10 percent of the workers going through the training will get promotions.

The funding comes from the state’s Skills Development Fund, put in place in 1996 to help build skills that lead to higher paying jobs.

Alvin Proctor, vice president of human resources at Kaneka North America, a Pasadena-based chemical manufacturing plant and subsidiary of the Japanese chemical maker, said the company had long focused on developing engineers, but realized there was great need for skilled craftsmen and other worker, particularly for those in those in electrical instrumentation and mechanics.

“We know that everybody’s not going to be engineers,” Proctor said. ““We want people who are not going to be engineers have a good understanding of the chemical process and the process technology, so that when we get them into the companies it won’t take too much in training, because as you know time to train equals dollars to us.”

Proctor noted another advantage to the training program. “You’re going to drive innovation,” he said, “because most people are going to ask more questions when they’re not just cycling through the industry like most people do.”

Kenny French, 35, has worked at the Kaneka plant for about 10 years, the last six as a supervisor overseeing the packaging of the chemicals for shipment. He recently completed 32 hours of process operations training that taught him how to operate different machinery throughout the plant using hands-on simulations.

French said the training helped increase his familiarity and understanding of the plant’s equipment and operations — understanding that will allow him to train employees and new hires who work under him.

“The knowledge is very useful that you’re going to use it everyday in operations,” French said. “They’re giving me the resources that I need as far as advancement in my career and also helping the people I work with advance as well.”

jose.gonzalez@chron.com

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