Area residents needing to increase their employability skills to meet the demands of today’s manufacturing industries are encouraged to attend the “Technology Showcase @ GOCAT” between 4 and 6 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 1, at the Greater Ozarks Center for Advanced Technology (GOCAT), 395 Jackie D. Garrett Ave., in West Plains.
Sponsored by Missouri State University-West Plains, the showcase will give those attending the opportunity to:
- discover career opportunities in manufacturing
- tour the facility and its training equipment
- see demonstrations, including the new virtual reality industrial spray painting simulator
- speak one-on-one with instructors
- meet with area employers to find out how the skills taught in the programs offered at the GOCAT are needed by area industries, many of which are currently hiring
Employer partnerships key to innovative training programs
“I appreciate the officials at Missouri State University-West Plains and the Greater Ozark Center for Advanced Technology partnering directly with employers, asking what skills their employees need and continuously developing training programs that address those specific needs,” said Garland Barton, senior director of human resources at DRS Land Systems in West Plains.
“Because the skills required of the workforce are changing constantly, the curriculum designed to train individuals to enter into or remain in the workforce also must change continuously,” he added. “They type of relationship that exists between GOCAT and West Plains area businesses is not typical, but it is the only thing that keeps a critical skills gap from occurring in our area.”
According to Sheila Barton, manager of Missouri State University-West Plains’ programs at the GOCAT, courses in applied electricity and electronics, biofuels, solar and wind energy, machining, robotics, industrial controls, programmable logic controllers and sensors (PLCs), computer aided drafting (CAD) and computer numerical control (CNC) programming are offered at the facility.
Apprenticeships are filling the gap
“Over the past year, we have been very successful in partnering with local and regional employers to provide training for registered apprenticeship opportunities within their companies,” Barton said. “Our employers need skilled workers, and registered apprenticeships provide for an earn-and-learn experience.”
Birch Tree resident Harley Curtis is taking advantage of the apprenticeship program at Jasper Engines in Willow Springs offered through GOCAT.
“Being accepted into the apprenticeship program is a great benefit and will help me in my career. The coursework is online with scheduled labs, and I can still work full time and get training,” he explained. “Having hands-on learning both in the lab and on the job is the best aspect of the program. I would recommend an apprenticeship to anyone who wants to learn a skill.”
Additional information available
In addition to tours of the facility and visits with area manufacturers, those attending the showcase will learn how they can enroll in the courses and programs, apply for financial aid from a variety of sources, and discover how successful completion of these programs can put them on a pathway to certain jobs and potential registered apprenticeship opportunities. Representatives from Missouri State University-West Plains and the Missouri Job Center will be on hand to answer questions.
“Every individual’s goals and needs are different,” Sheila Barton explained. “This showcase will provide you an opportunity to explore the many options of education and training available through Missouri State-West Plains at GOCAT. If you are uncertain of the career path you want to take, this event is a great place to start your road to success.”
Refreshments will be served at the showcase, organizers said.
For more information about Missouri State-West Plains programs offered at the GOCAT, call the GOCAT office at 417-255-7784 or email Barton at SheilaFBarton@MissouriState.edu.