Manufacturing Sector Strategies


Check out a short informational video of WWRC's Manufacturing Technology Training (MTT) Program:


June, 2018 Update

  • The Hershey Plant in Stuarts Draft conducted a trial run of its new boot camp approach to orienting high school students to work at their plant, offering fundamentals of manufacturing. The first-ever camp was held at WWRC in the Switzer Building during the week of June 18th, and in addition to those participants from local high schools, five (5) WWRC students from the Manufacturing Technology Training Program attended. The program, facilitated by the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board (SVWDB), was conducted by former WWRC staff member, Jim Leech. This type of training strengthens our relationship with local industry and great partners like the SVWDB, and fully embraces the 6th core measure of WIOA in business engagement. In addition, it provided another opportunity for our students to be involved in an "integrated training environment" that involves Workforce Board-sponsored industry-level training alongside individuals who do not have disabilities. Click here for the Channel 29 newscast of the event.


March, 2018 Update:  WWRC Manufacturing Technology Training (MTT) Program - Virginia Community College System (VCCS) HIRE Education Conference Workforce Industry Credentials Showcase Award, Registered Apprenticeship Status, and MTT Graduate Featured at the National Jobs-Driven VR Technical Assistance Center's Work-Based Learning Conference


Congratulations to WWRC for winning the BEST SHOWCASE Award of Excellence at the VCCS HIRE Education Conference held at that Homestead Resort in December, 2017!   The focus of the showcase is to demonstrate how an educational institution has expertly applied skills and knowledge to improve Virginia's workforce development system and/or has provided remarkable services to students that goes above and beyond the normal call of duty leading to industry credentials.   The significance of WWRC participating in this showcase was immeasurable because the Center was the first non-community college to be invited to this event.  WWRC was awarded this honor for its display of the Manufacturing Technology Training (MTT) Program funded by the Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities (CPID) grant.  WWRC's MTT Program is now also aligned with the Federal Department of Labor's requirements for a pre-apprenticeship program status  which has led to a fruitful collaboration with the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board and the Valley to Valley (V2V) Federal Grant under the direction of Debby Hopkins.   Debbie has been instrumental in establishing relationships with area manufacturers who are now offering registered apprenticeships through the state Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI).  WWRC's MTT Program is reportedly the FIRST PROGRAM in the COUNTRY to operate a Vocational Rehabilitation Training Program that has a DOLI recognized pre-apprenticeship, WIOA recognized workforce credentials and is connected to a network of employers who are hiring graduates into state DOLI registered apprenticeships as manufacturing technicians.    The V2V grant has also provided a recent software package for WWRC's MTT CNC track. 



The week of March 13th, Rick Sizemore, WWRC Director, travelled to the Jobs-Driven VR Technical Assistance Center's Work-Based Learning Conference in Dallas, Texas.   Rick had the honor of serving on a panel at this conference with Debby Hopkins, Shenandoah Valley Workforce Board, the Director of the Arkansas Career Training Institute, and Chris Hall - one of WWRC MTT program graduates who is currently employed by The Hershey Company.   This national conference was so excited about Chris and his success that they wanted him to be the focus of a panel presentation and poster session.  This conference was attended by some of the U.S. top leaders in VR and they are very excited about the WWRC model and our alignment with the Federal Department of Labor's Standards for  pre-apprenticeship programs and the fact that Chris has moved through the program and is positioned to work as a registered apprentice.                                          

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Key staff from the Governor's Office on Workforce Development have gotten excited about individuals with disabilities as they seek to meet credentialing objectives set by the Governor and workforce creation goals outlined in EO23, citing the need for 500,000 new manufacturing workers in the next five years for new jobs, in addition to replacing over 1,000,000 workers aging out of the system.   Efforts heightened after a January, 2016 site visit to WWRC which led to linkages and collaborative initiatives between WWRC, the Virginia Manufacturing Association (VMA) and the Manufacturing Skills Institute (MSI) to promote career pathways in the manufacturing industry for VR clients and assist them to obtain industry credentials as relevant {Manufacturing Specialist (MS) and Manufacturing Technology (MT1)}. 


Leveraging the combined resources of a Career Pathways for People with Disabilities (CPID) federal grant awarded to DARS, VAMA, MSI, Agency Business Development Managers, and the WWRC Foundation, WWRC implemented a new Manufacturing Technology Training (MTT) Program, with enrollments beginning in SFY 2017, to generate a pipeline of qualified job seekers in the manufacturing industry where over 200,000 jobs in the field currently exist, thus driving a major sector of the Commonwealth's economy with high paying jobs and good benefits.      In addition to MS and MT1 credentials, consumers have the opportunity to earn their Career Readiness Certificate (CRC) and OHSA 10 credential.  Graduates of WWRC's Manufacturing Technology Training (MTT) Training Program are prepared for employment in any modern manufacturing environment. This program is accredited through the Commission of the Council on Occupational Education.   In addition, WWRC' PERT Program implemented a Dream It – Do It Academy, using the VAMA model, for interested high school students which has facilitated career exploration of manufacturing and STEM industries.    PERT students who complete the Dream It – Do It Academy have the opportunity to be considered for enrollment in WWRC's MTT Program upon graduation.


In 2016, WWRC was named VMA Partner of the Year for its outstanding leadership in changing perceptions about careers in manufacturing and in increasing access to industry certifications for individuals with disabilities in the Commonwealth of Virginia.


In December, 2017, during the HIRE Education Conference, WWRC won the Best Showcase Award of Excellence for for their display of the Manufacturing Technology Training (MTT) Program.  The criteria for this award was the following: alignment with the need of employers to build Virginia's economy and to triple the number of credentials earned by 2021, prepare workers for regional and statewide high-demand jobs within high skilled occupations, attainment of industry-recognized credentials, strong outcomes and sustainability, demonstration of innovation to lead workforce development efforts, enhance individual prosperity, formulate success, and to spur economic vitality.


WWRC Manufacturing Technology Training (MTT) Video





 Congratulations to our MTT Graduates!

SClark - MTT grad.jpgSpencer Clark, a recent graduate of the Manufacturing Technology Training (MTT) program, was hired by idX in Fredericksburg who recently invested $7.2 million in a facility to create 150 manufacturing jobs.   Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe approved a $400,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to help lure idX to Virginia, which competed against Maryland and North Carolina.  idX specializes in furnishings and displays for retail stores and showrooms and the hospitality industry.  It has a facility in Columbia, Maryland, and eight other cities, as well as international locations in China, India, the U.K., Mexico, Toronto and Tokyo.  The 18-year-old company is headquartered near St. Louis, Missouri.  Its customers include Total Wine, Tesla and Under Armour.  Spencer will be making $13 an hour working as a mill operator.  Spencer participated in the 3-D printer academy sponsored by the Career Pathways for Individuals with Disabilities while enrolled in the MTT program at WWRC.  He was featured in a success story distributed nationally by the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation and was also a featured speaker at the Virginia Manufacturers Association Forum in Newport News in November 2017.



Congratulations to MTT graduate Chris Hall who works at the Hershey Plant in Stuart's Draft, Virginia.  Chris was featured in the Inclusive Work-Based Learning Conference in Dallas, Texas in March, 2018, to talk about his state Department of Labor and Industry registered apprenticeship as a manufacturing technician!  Chris offered his compelling success story and reflected on the value of his experience in helping him reach his dream job at Hershey.  An interview featuring Chris along with Debby Hopkins and the senior HR Manager from Hershey has received national attention on the WWRC's Foundations podcast, VR Workforce Studio, which has been posted to the Council of State Administrators of Vocational Rehabilitation's website at   On Monday, March 26, Chris was officially registered as an apprentice with Hershey!  He is their first Industrial Manufacturing Technician Apprentice. The training Chris received at WWRC has been approved by the state apprenticeship agency as satisfying all of the requirements for the 18-month production apprenticeship, except the 3,000 hours of supervised on the job performance.  Hershey awarded Chris 800 hours for time he has already completed.  

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