The Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp.'s training center group is adding another class to its offerings of certified nursing assistant skills training and certified medications assistant classes.

This time it's welding.

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The JSDC's training center strategy, which originally focused on building a training center, has evolved into providing skills training classes as needed for this area, said Lisa Hicks, the group's facilitator. The group started with the medical leaders roundtable discussing classes needed in the health care field.

"We thought we'd need to build, but then we realized we have the (James Valley) Career and Technology Center," Hicks said. "Everything we needed in a building is there for a variety of skills training classes."

So the JSDC-based training center idea has morphed into the Skills Training Committee, which includes John Lynch, Career and Tech Center director. Lynch's facility provides the classrooms for the CNA skills training class, which will soon start its ninth class. A CMA class with about 10 students was also held there in July.

Now with a move into the manufacturing arena, a third class, this one in welding, is being tentatively planned for February.

"It's something we've been working on for years," Lynch said. "There's always been a need for welders and we have the necessary equipment to do a variety of different types of welding. We have no welding program for high school students, but we have a welding shop that is used by a number of programs."

The class will follow the model created by the medical leaders roundtable. It will be an 18-hour class in basic welding skills offered two evenings a week for two weeks with testing and specialized welding the third week. And like the CNA skills training class, it can have multiple instructors, so no one person has to teach the class all the time.

"The students would pay for the welding class -- we're thinking $250-$300," she said.

As with the CNA class, where local health care facilities were training and then losing the new CNAs to positions elsewhere, Hicks said, "manufacturers were training welders then losing them to other businesses."

For both groups it became too expensive to train.

This class would eliminate the problem. However, at this point the Skills Training Committee doesn't know if area manufacturers are interested in such a class. Hicks has sent out letters inviting area manufacturers to an organizational meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 26 at the Career and Tech Center.

"We hope to get more of an idea of what they need," Lynch said. "And maybe they have instructors."

Hicks would like to see another roundtable organized, so the Skills Training Committee could meet the needs for skilled workers in manufacturing as they come up.

"Anybody with suggestions or ideas should come to the meeting," Hicks said. "But if they have questions beforehand, they can call me at the JSDC, 252-6861."

Lynch believes the training model could also be used to teach a basic machining class for adults as well. But without input from the manufacturers, the committee can't go any further.

Kelly Bossert, Jobs Service customer service manager here, is another member of the committee. His office can steer individuals to the classes and help those trained to find jobs in the area.

Added to that, Job Service offers a number of programs to partially fund student fees as in the CNA class. For a welding class, Job Service can help not only with the registration fees for qualified students, he said, but also on-the-job training costs for the employer. Most manufacturers employing welders have specific kinds of welding they need in their facilities.

"We can offset the on-the-job training costs up to 50 percent of the salary," Bossert said. "We have a lot of different programs available that most people don't look into."

The purpose behind all the training classes set up by the Skills Training Committee is to upgrade skills for better-paying jobs.

"The trend is going toward skilled labor now," Hicks said.

The model created by the medical leaders roundtable provides short-term evening classes at an affordable price to meet that trend. It's not only working well here, it has possibilities for other rural communities as well. For example, so far the skills training class here has turned out more than 100 new CNAs.

It's been such a successful model, Hicks said, the group has been invited to do a presentation to the Center for Rural Health Conference in Mandan in March.

"It's a really big honor to be asked to present," she said.

Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at tonip@jamestownsun.com