100 Years, 100 Stories
WestRock Co., a global packaging organization, has 275 operating and business locations that span North America, South America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Included in that long list of locations is an office in Blue Springs, and that’s where MCC graduate Anna Springer now works.
Springer completed the Computer Integrated Machining and Manufacturing (CIMM) certificate program at MCC, which prepares students with the high skills necessary to work in the manufacturing industry. Students in the program spend 10 weeks in the lab and classroom mastering the basics of machining and the last six weeks at paid internships.
This new model and curriculum began in 2013. Since then, 96 percent of students who completed the program have been offered jobs.
The program was funded through grant money administered by the U.S. Department of Labor in partnership with the Department of Education. The federal grant program is called TAACCCT, which stands for Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training. The grant’s purpose was to ensure that community colleges are well-positioned to serve workers displaced due to jobs shifting overseas.
In 2012, MCC received $1.8 million to launch the MoManufacturingWINs program at MCC. Statewide, $14.9 million in funds were distributed. At MCC, participants could choose from four career paths: welding, ABB Robotics industrial maintenance, CIMM and warehouse logistics.
MoManWINs has enabled students to earn industry-recognized credentials that validate their mastery of skills in specific areas of manufacturing. MoManWINs training at MCC continues through 2015 and has served 457 participants to date, including Springer.
“When I first came to this school, I had been laid off by my former employer. He told us about all of these grants. I went down to the unemployment office and they pointed me in this direction,” explained Springer.
Springer was nominated by her employer and former instructors to meet the U.S. Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, when he visited the Business & Technology campus in August. Springer participated in a roundtable discussion with Perez, students, other graduates and other officials to talk about the results of the grants.
“I got into the CIMM program and with the grant money I was able to get my certificate,” Springer said. “Through the internship I was able to work with WestRock. We liked each other so much they went ahead and hired me.”
Her supervisor at WestRock, Ben Elkins, said: “The skills she garnered with the CIMM program at MCC have been instrumental in her performance at work. The base knowledge she gained in machining allowed us to move through on-the-job training much quicker than we have been able to in the past. Our machinist department is highly specialized in the type of work we do, and Ms. Springer’s professionalism, demeanor and work ethic fit in well. These aspects of her personality were developed by the CIMM program as much as her skill set was. She has quickly proven to be an asset on the team and is seen as an invaluable member.”
WestRock “aspires to be the premier partner and unrivaled provider of paper and packaging solutions in consumer and corrugated markets,” according to the company’s website. “WestRock’s 42,000 team members support customers around the world.”
Springer is enjoying her job, and has now returned to MCC to take additional classes so she will have the skills and training to move up when an opportunity presents itself.