G.W. Lisk has been manufacturing products for over a century in Clifton Springs. Three years ago, the company decided to partner with FLCC when they realized they were having trouble hiring skilled workers to perform advanced machining.
On a Tuesday morning in March, Dave Phillips, a 30 year machinist at Lisk, is teaching class. Among his students are Ben Norsen, Nick Hyland and Abe Voorhees. All three are studying to become skilled machinists. "I see it as a career opportunity, more than anything," said Norsen. "It can take me anywhere."
Norsen grew up in Clifton Springs and his mother worked at Lisk. Hyland was looking for some direction after graduating from high school, while Voorhees was part of a landscaping crew before deciding he wanted a career. After visiting FLCC and learning about the partnership program, Voorhees said, "I got a call one day and they said, we want you, so I was really happy."
The course work is deliberately intense. Students get a heavy dose of math and learn to operate modern computer controlled equipment. "These are brand new, high tech machines," said Phillips, the program's training manager, while standing in the training lab. "So now the students are training on a machine that they're going to walk right to the shop floor, they're going to run the exact same type of machine."
Voorhees said Phillips is a patient teacher. "He had to be because it's a lot to understand."
Lisk first approached FLCC to add an educational component to their technical expertise. "We try to tailor our training lab and our classroom training to be very specific, very industry specific, and that's probably what sets us apart from many other programs," said Phillips.
Lynn Freid is the Director of Workforce Development at FLCC. "Part of the process that we run and that the college added to this was what we refer to as an orientation and a profile process," she said. Students are screened to make sure those accepted will see the seven month program through. So far, they all have. "Because of that process, I think that's what gets us our high success rate," noted Freid.
When they're done, these students will have the necessary skills to land in-demand, good paying, high tech career positions. "Now I have all this knowledge and I can take it with me wherever I go," said Hyland.
When asked, what made training to be an advanced machinist at Lisk feel like the beginning of a career path, Norsen said, "Because it's something I can enjoy going to everyday."
The training for these FLCC/Lisk students is only half the story. We'll tell you why none of them have bothered to polish off a resume, in part two of our look at the partnership program.
To learn more about the program, click here. Once on the Finger Lakes site, click on "Professional Development & Career Education," then "FAME Finger Lakes Advance Manufacturers' Enterprise," then "Employment & Training Services," then "Training & Certificates," and then "Advanced Manufacturing Machinist."