Marines David Scott, left, and Charles Smith engage in a Lean Six Sigma simulation using Legos to represent airplane parts in an assembly-line building project. The simulation was part of the Tools for Advanced Manufacturing program, a collaborative program designed to help veterans transition into the civilian workforce. (Photos by Dee Harper)
SUCCESSFUL TRANSITIONS ECU empowers veterans through collaborative workforce development
One year after launching, East Carolina University’s Tools for Advanced Manufacturing (TAMV) has empowered veterans throughout eastern North Carolina with the skills and tools needed to successfully transition into the civilian workforce.
Made possible through a $69,750 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation, TAMV addresses the needs of both veterans entering civilian life and local manufacturers seeking technically-skilled, leadership-oriented employees for advanced manufacturing environments. The program’s goal is to attract and retain veterans in advanced manufacturing careers as a means of economic development for North Carolina.
TAMV supports eastern North Carolina manufacturers by providing a skilled workforce. Pictured above, Nathaniel Garland completes the workstation simulation.
The program is a robust collaboration between East Carolina University and North Carolina community colleges with a long history of supporting the military. Since 2014, TAMV has served more than 160 veterans and has received three nationally-recognized workforce certificates highly valued by industry, resulting in employment for some of those participants. Duke Energy’s grant has supported nine classes with 132 veteran participants, to date.
TAMV operates under the umbrella of Operation Reentry North Carolina (ORNC), a national organization focused on the resiliency, rehabilitation and reintegration of veterans and their families.
“From my perspective as a retired Navy Master Chief Petty Officer, the TAMV offers service members and veterans the valuable opportunity to obtain nationally recognized workforce certificates translating many of their military skills, knowledge and abilities into employment opportunities with regional North Carolina advanced manufacturers. The success and interest in the TAMV program continues to grow significantly and should be considered a best practice to assist service members, veterans and their families transitioning from the military,” said Jim Menke, project manager and military research liaison for Operation Reentry North Carolina.
“Veterans bring critical skills and experience to North Carolina’s workforce,” said Mike Hughes, Duke Energy’s vice president of community relations for North Carolina. “We’re proud to support ECU’s Tools for Advanced Manufacturing and its goal of successfully connecting returning service members with career training opportunities in the manufacturing industry.”
For the participants, the classes:
Provide hands-on experiences in advanced manufacturing topics and techniques;
Assess preparation for current jobs requirements and provide stackable certificates, including the ACT WorkKeys Assessments, OSHA 30 and LEAN/Six Sigma Yellow Belt;
Enable engagement with local employers seeking credentialed candidates for employment;
Support the reintegration efforts of ORNC;
Offer resume development and career counseling; and
Offer training in human-centered design thinking and innovation processes.
Throughout the program, veterans determine their preparedness for civilian job requirements through use of the ACT WorkKeys Assessments. They have full access to an online class that offers both soft skill and core skill development, and also to community college counselors to help explore options for furthering skill development or formal education. The program measures its success by the veterans’ obtaining national credentials, engaging with local manufacturing firms or advancing toward further education. Further, employee and employer satisfaction will be assessed.
“The Tools for Advanced Manufacturing for Veterans program is an excellent collaboration among ECU, our community college partners and North Carolina’s military bases to facilitate veterans successfully transitioning to civilian careers and to support the reintegration of military families,” said Dr. Ted Morris, associate vice chancellor of ECU’s Office of Innovation and Economic Development and principal investigator for ORNC. “This support from the Duke Energy Foundation is critical to transitioning and retaining this well-trained, technically-skilled, leadership-oriented talent in North Carolina.”
To participate or for more information about Tools for Advanced Manufacturing for Veterans, contact Mr. Jim Menke, ECU Office of Innovation and Economic Development, at 252-737-1354 or firstname.lastname@example.org.