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Workforce Readiness Program is a public - private partnership with major manufacturers

SHELBY, NC - Cleveland County is proud to announce that the first class of Accelerate Cleveland will graduated on July 29, 2019. All of these graduates have received job offers from partnering companies and some will immediately sign on to work for their new employers after receiving their certificate or within the next week.
"We could not be more proud of the individuals who have graduated from Accelerate Cleveland," said County Commission Chair Susan Allen. "They all took a leap of faith by participating in this new program and seven weeks later, they all have job offers."
The purpose of Accelerate Cleveland is to provide motivated, underemployed individuals with a pathway to a career in the manufacturing industry. Accelerate Cleveland was designed to help solve two problems: 1) Cleveland County has an urgent need for skilled workers to fill jobs with major manufacturers; and 2) Cleveland County has more than 9,000 residents who are employed full-time, but are making less than a living wage.
"As we expand economic development in Cleveland County," said Allen, "the demand for a skilled, job-ready workforce is a critical component to attracting new business investment."
Accelerate Cleveland is a seven-week workforce readiness program that is a public-private partnership between Cleveland County and major manufacturers in Cleveland County. Program participants are identified, selected and tested to ensure that they meet employers' rigorous hiring standards which include background checks and drug testing. Then, participants receive $10 per hour during the short-term training program, which allows them to quit their current job and learn the skills needed to work with area manufacturing partners.
"One of the most difficult barriers for someone who is working, but not earning a living wage, to overcome is that they cannot quit their current job to get the training they need to get a better job," said County Commissioner Ronnie Whetstine. "Accelerate Cleveland helps solve that problem and helps participants work towards a brighter future."
Accelerate Cleveland's curriculum was designed to combine three core components: soft skills training, Certified Production Technician (CPT), and the Career Readiness Certificate (CRC). The core curriculum - Certified Production Technician - consists of four modules: safety, quality practices and measurement, manufacturing processes and maintenance awareness. During the program, participants have the opportunity to tour major manufacturing facilities that are partnering with Accelerate Cleveland. These tours enable participants to understand job roles and expectations, and it helps them make informed decisions about where they want to work when they complete Accelerate Cleveland.
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Accelerate Cleveland is funded by manufacturing partners, foundations and agencies, with support from the County. Upon completion of the program, participants are not guaranteed a job, but they are given an opportunity to interview with each of the industry partners. Partnering firms are committed to interviewing program graduates.
This inaugural class served as a test for the Accelerate Cleveland program so that we could fine-tune what participants needed and what employers wanted. Classes will be expanded to accommodate more participants for subsequent sessions. Accelerate Cleveland is currently recruiting for the next class which begins in mid-September. To complete an application, please contact Cleveland County's Human Resources Department at 704-484-4833 or apply in person at 311 East Marion Street in Shelby. Interested applicants can also take the required Career Readiness Certificate at Cleveland Community College. This a free skills builder which prepares students to be successful in a classroom setting. More information about this prerequisite can be found by calling Cleveland Community College at 704-669-4033.
Submitted by Janet Hart


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