With significant numbers of Mainers unable to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Washington County Community College (WCCC) is developing ways to get both workers and manufacturers back on their feet stronger than before once the quarantine lifts. One such program enables prospective workers to become Certified Production Technicians (CPT) in six months through online classes. The program is being offered at no cost through the Maine Quality Center.
WCCC developed a partnership with the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council a few years ago when St. Croix Tissue anticipated needing a large number of trained workers to assist in their new operations. The CPT program – comprised of five courses – was the result. It leads to a nationally recognized industry credential and results in 13 credit hours toward WCCC’s Certificate and Associate degree tracks in Production Technology. Both the certificate and Associate degree tracks were designed in partnership with industry to produce well-trained, diligent employees who were capable of responding to the ongoing manufacturing workforce shortage in the region.
Students who enroll in the CPT program will take courses in safety, manufacturing processes and production, maintenance awareness, quality practices and measurement, and green production. At the end of each course, students take a proctored test now available online.
Several individual companies, high schools, and the Department of Corrections Southern Maine Women’s Re-Entry Center have utilized the CPT program. The classes are completely online and self-paced, meaning students can generally take on the material at their own speed.
Students interested in continuing with their college education beyond the CPT certificate can easily do so as the courses overlap with WCCC’s Certificate and Associate in Applied Science degree tracks.
This particular cohort of CPT classes is part of the Maine Community College System’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic and WCCC’s commitment to Maine’s manufacturing industry. “It makes perfect sense to be offering robust online programming during a time when people might have some extra time to increase their skill levels,” said Nichole Sawyer, WCCC’s Dean of Workforce and Professional Development.
Scholarships and grants are available to provide further financial assistance to students. Adult learners and former students who started taking classes at the college in the past but did not complete their degree have access to a special scholarship called Soaring Back. Through it, students receive an additional $300 per semester on top of any federal grants or scholarships they are eligible for. More than 80 percent of WCCC’s students are eligible for Pell Grants.
The CPT program starts bi-weekly and interested students are encouraged to contact Nichole Sawyer at (207) 454-1040 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or to get started.