ROCKFORD -- A summer manufacturing program through Rock Valley College has landed 10 recent Rockford Public Schools graduates jobs in the manufacturing field.
The program pulled students from RPS traditional high schools: four from Jefferson, one from Guilford, five from East, and two from Auburn. Eight students now have jobs with Woodward; two are employed at Header Tool and Die. (One student enrolled in the armed forces; the employment status of another student is unknown.) The average salary: $13.50 an hour.
Last school year, 12 graduating seniors qualified for the summer training program. Of those, 11 recent graduates were trained in CNC (computer numerical control) manufacturing this summer. The 12th student was hired before the summer program even started as a part-time Woodward employee. She is getting full-time training through Rock Valley College via the GEM, or Golden Eagles Manufacturing, program.
Ron Phillips, manager at Header Tool and Die, offered students a tour of his facility and said he’s excited to watch this partnership grow. “It excited me that there are young people out there who are capable and serious about manufacturing careers,” he said. He said he’d like to help more students transition into manufacturing careers. Mark A. Hollis, a HR consultant with Woodward, said he keeps hearing positive feedback about the RPS grads: that they are enthusiastic, grateful for the job and seem to understand what Woodward is about.
Rock Valley College has grant money available to continue funding this program next year. RPS plans to use it as a model for ongoing college and career academies, emphasizing the student preparation, training and business collaboration.
To set up interviews with students who have completed the program, please contact Gina Caronna, secondary program coordinator for College and Career Readiness: 815-509-4807 or Gina.Caronna@rps205.com.