Owens customize training helps First Solar invest in workforce

Press Staff Writer

        According to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, 93 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers.
        For 19 First Solar employees, this statistic became more of a reality when they earned a state certificate at a special ceremony Aug. 2 at Owens Community College after completing customized training made possible through a partnership with Owens Community College and First Solar.
        The First Solar employees earned the 34-credit hour Industrial Maintenance Certificate in accelerated time, covering the 13 classes from January to July. A typical student may spend up to 18 months earning this certificate.
        Owens customized the educational makeup and delivery of the certificate so First Solar employees attended classes Mondays and Wednesdays in two 12-hour shifts, 6 a.m.-6 p.m. or 6 p.m.-6 a.m.
        Additional examples of the customized training included utilizing First Solar blueprints in the Mechanical Print Reading class and starting an Electrical Principles class at 2:30 a.m.
        First Solar began partnership talks with Owens officials in the spring of 2018, immediately after announcing its building expansion in Lake Township and the need for additional employees.
        “When First Solar could not find new, qualified employees, they sent their existing employees to us to upgrade their skills. We were excited to provide career growth opportunities for their manufacturing operators and technicians,” said Rob Kraus, executive director of Owens Workforce Training. “What we did with First Solar, we can do with other companies. We offer multiple pathways to train incumbent and future workers and help them earn valuable knowledge and skills to succeed on the job.”
        First Solar has already moved forward with another customized training opportunity, enrolling manufacturing operators in Manufacturing Engineer Technician classes leading to a certificate of completion.
        “First and foremost, we would like to congratulate our First Solar associates on this wonderful accomplishment said,” Jay Lake, manufacturing workforce development and community relations manager, First Solar. “As we move forward with our vision to lead the world’s sustainable energy future it will be critical to have the most highly skilled associates on the front lines in our manufacturing facilities.
        “Training programs such as the one that First Solar and Owens Community College have developed will be paramount in bringing this vision to fruition,” he said. “We are confident that we will be able to provide cost-advantaged solar technology through innovation, customer engagement, industry leadership and operational excellence with the help of our talented workforce.”
        Approximately 50 people attended the graduation ceremony in College Hall.
        For more information on customized workforce training, visit www.owens.edu/workforce_cs or call 567-661-7357.


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