This article courtesy of Oakland County
Unemployed or underemployed persons interested in pursuing a new post-pandemic career in the robotics industry are invited to apply for a spot in an upcoming training program for programmable logic controller (PLC) and robotics technicians, both of which are in high demand across southeast Michigan.
The program is administered by Oakland County Michigan Works!, in partnership with Oakland Community College (OCC) and the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan. Since its launch in 2017, the program has graduated 129 people, with 80 percent now working full-time in the field. The next cohort starts on July 19.
“During this year’s Oakland County Economic Outlook presentation, economists from the University of Michigan noted that automation will continue to play a significant role in manufacturing operations,” said Oakland County Executive David Coulter. “This training program presents an ideal opportunity for people impacted by the pandemic to obtain new skills and pursue a new career path in our region.”
Federal and state grants cover the 14-week program’s $7,000 tuition for eligible participants, who must have a high school diploma or equivalent. In addition to classroom work, 70 percent of the instruction takes place in robotics labs at OCC.
“This is a very hands-on training program and those who complete it acquire the certifications needed to step right into a variety of jobs with robotics manufacturers and system integrators in our region,” said Jennifer Llewellyn, director of Oakland County Michigan Works! “Once hired, they often have the opportunity to continue their education and obtain advanced degrees, leading to additional career advancement.”
According to OCC Program Manager Kristen Charlton, many robotics-related positions in southeast Michigan are in automotive manufacturing, but she said demand for PLC and robotics technicians is expanding quickly into other industries, including the medical and pharmaceutical sectors, food preparation and e-commerce fulfilment.
Several of the training program’s most recent graduates secured full-time employment with Amazon, which has opened several distribution centers in southeast Michigan. Other companies that have hired program graduates include Treva Corporation, Encore Automation, American Axle, Magna Cosma, Gabletek, Esys Automation, ABB, FANUC America, and Tyson Foods, among others. Starting pay ranges from $19-$25 per hour, with experienced PLC and robotics technicians earning up to $35 per hour.
“Employers like the fact that our curriculum covers both PLC and robotics technician functions and we take a big picture look at preparing our students,” Charlton said. “We try to remain flexible, so we can adjust our curriculum and skills development to the changing needs of the employers who hire many of our students upon graduation.”
Oakland County Michigan Works! operates service centers in Novi, Oak Park, Pontiac, Southfield, Troy, and Waterford. Combined, they assist more than 105,000 job seekers annually. Services include career coaching, interviewing and job search workshops, placement assistance, training courses and job trend information.
The service centers also assist more than 3,000 employers seeking assistance with talent recruitment, apprenticeship programs, job fairs, candidate pre-screening, hiring and training support, layoff support and labor market data.
Service center staffs remain available by virtual appointment to work one-on-one with job seekers to build their resumes, prepare for job interviews and help address other needs. To schedule a virtual meeting, call 1-248-858-5520 and select the office nearest to you. The service centers are hosting several virtual workshops for job seekers. A schedule can be found at OaklandCountyMIWorks.com.
Offering nearly 100 degrees and certificates, OCC is Michigan’s largest multi-campus community college and No. 1 transfer institution in the state. The College provides academic, career training and enriching experiences, designed to empower students to reach their potential and enhance our community. More than 1 million students have enrolled in the College since it opened in 1965. A seven- person Board of Trustees governs OCC. Board members are elected on a non-partisan, at-large basis, serve as volunteers and are not paid. Mission statement: OCC is committed to empowering our students to succeed and advancing our community. Learn more at oaklandcc.edu.
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