Today, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO, Inc.) announced the open recruitment of the fourth cohort of the Mechatronics Apprenticeship Training Program. As part of the organization’s signature GNOu initiative, this program is an innovative apprenticeship including Elmer Chocolate, Laitram, and Zatarain’s, Delgado Community College, Northshore Technical Community College, and Nunez Community College.
“The Mechatronics Apprenticeship program demonstrates that through public/private partnership, we can help our businesses grow, and our citizens find great careers,” said Michael Hecht, President and CEO of Greater New Orleans, Inc. “Now that we are in our fourth cohort, the Mechatronics program is a model for apprenticeship that can be replicated in other industries across the region and state.”
Originally announced April 2019, the first graduates of the two-year program graduated in July 2021. Through the training process, enrolled participants receive a combination of on-the-job training at one of the employers, combined with classroom instruction and technical training from all three of the education partners. Applications for the fourth cohort are due by May 13, 2022.
“The mechatronics program has become an invaluable source for our company to train up technicians who understand and can troubleshoot our advanced manufacturing equipment,” said Allison Thomas, Talent Acquisition Recruiting Supervisor at Laitram. “We are very appreciative of their commitment to the program and are excited to watch them continue learning and developing with Intralox and Laitram.”
GNO, Inc. sees it as a priority to foster collaborative industry and higher education partnerships. GNO, Inc. created its GNOu program as a catalyst for companies to partner with post-secondary schools to create custom-designed training programs as means to recruit employees. This generates a triple-win: the company gets specifically-trained workers, the school gets a market-relevant curriculum, and, the overall labor market benefits from a better trained workforce.
New specialization requirements include mechatronics, an emerging, interdisciplinary branch of engineering that combines skills and knowledge in electrical and mechanical systems, electronics, robotics and control systems. Mechatronic workers are employed in many industrial environments, including energy, plastics, advanced manufacturing, and aerospace.
“Today’s high-tech manufacturing environment has opened up significant opportunities for people in Louisiana, especially our younger generations,” said Robert Nelson, CEO at Elmer Chocolate. “While some predicted new advanced technologies and automation would eliminate jobs, we have found the reverse – more jobs are being created. The challenge today is not finding a job, it is having the skill set required to be successful in that job. This partnership between business and higher education will provide the key to many people looking for an exciting and fulfilling career.”
After bringing this matter to our region’s higher education institutions, it became apparent that three schools – Delgado Community College, Northshore Technical Community College, and Nunez Community College – each possessed unique aspects of training that could be combined to create a curriculum and program that would generate trained workers that meet the needs of the program’s employers.
The Mechatronics Apprenticeship Training Program’s curriculum is designed to enhance and prepare each apprentice to be fully qualified in multiple aspects of advanced manufacturing technology. The two-year commitment will provide both technical classroom instruction and on-the-job training using an earn-while-you-learn model with training costs covered completely by the employer.
Once assigned to an employer, apprentices earn a paycheck while learning on-the-job. Apprentices alternate between eight weeks of classroom work and eight weeks at their chosen company for the duration of the program. Participants in the program will gain experience in a wide range of core competencies including motor controls, basic machining (mill, lathe, drilling, tapping, etc.), blueprint reading, functions of electrical and electronic systems, plus much more.
In early April, each of the three schools hosted information sessions on campus, as well as a virtual session for interested parties. A recording of one information session and more details on the program can be found at gnoinc.org/mechatronics.