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Training in Machining Leads to Solid Jobs, Careers

Free Program for Qualified Individuals is Provided via Texas Workforce Commission Grant

Take just a glance at the weekend employment section in any major newspaper and you will see that machinists are in big demand these days. And in just seven months at Montgomery College, part of the Lone Star College System (Lone Star College System), you can earn a machining workforce skills award that can jump start your career.

So what exactly does a machinist do? Most machinists work in small machining shops or in manufacturing industries, such as machinery manufacturing and transportation equipment manufacturing--which in south Texas consists mainly oil field, refinery and aerospace engineering companies, said Montgomery College machining instructor Harley Serratt.

After reviewing electronic or written blueprints or specifications for a job, machinists use machine tools, such as lathes, milling machines, and machining centers, to produce precision metal parts, said Serratt.

“They use their knowledge of the working properties of metals and their skill with machine tools to plan and carry out the operations needed to make machined products that meet precise specifications.”

The skills award is offered through the Montgomery College continuing education department at the college’s Lone Star College–Conroe Center (just east of downtown Conroe). It consists of four courses: Machine Shop Mathematics, Blueprint Reading and Sketching, Precision Tools and Measurement, and CNC Lathe Setup. And, at under $800, “it’s a steal,” said Serratt.

According to the America’s Career InfoNet Occupation Report, there will be a 4 percent increase in new jobs in this field over the next seven years. And in Texas, machinists start at about $15 per hour and can make over $30 per hour--plus time-and-a-half pay for overtime, of which there is often plenty. Many of these are full-time positions with paid medical benefits, vacation and holidays. Many larger shops also offer an inexpensive hot lunch on-site daily.

“Machining is a rapidly growing and well-paying career and our program provides extensive training at a very affordable price,” Serratt said.

Through a $1.6 million grant with the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Skills Development Fund, Montgomery College and Lone Star College System are offering free training for qualified individuals. The training prepares students for welding and machining jobs. Several industry training partners, including Halliburton Security DBS, are actively involved in hiring those who finish the program, as well as providing training for their existing employees.

“We have worked closely with the college to develop courses and get instructors and work with the materials the college already had,” said Laini Carpenter, Halliburton’s training coordinator.
“Our employees began taking courses in June and they have given very positive feedback saying they really enjoyed the instructors and the material they are learning,” said Carpenter. “Many have already said they want to continue in the program and take additional courses, which we feel is a great indicator of the success of the program. Our goal was to help employees feel that machining isn’t just a job for them, but a great career path.”

Another TWC-funded program, which offers grants for retraining for those wanting to change careers, encourages women to apply for training in a machining career.

“We have one woman who was a truck driver but didn’t like being away from her kids, so through the TWC she got a grant to take our machining program,” said Serratt. “She’s thrilled that her new career will pay very well--up to $15 an hour starting out--and she can spend more time with her family while doing something she loves.”

For more information about the Montgomery College workforce skills award in machining, contact Harley Serratt by e-mail: h.serratt@lonestar.edu, or by phone at (936) 271-6000. If you are interested in the free training provided via the TWC, contact the local WorkSource office at (936) 441-0037, ext. 2927.

Montgomery College is located at 3200 College Park Drive, one-half mile west of Interstate 45, between Conroe and The Woodlands. The college’s Lone Star College–Conroe Center is located at 102 Longview Street, just east of the Highway 105 and FM 1314 intersection, east of downtown Conroe.

North Harris Montgomery Community College District, among the largest and fastest-growing community colleges in Texas, comprises North Harris College, Kingwood College, Tomball College, Montgomery College, Cy-Fair College, six satellite centers and The University Center.