By Justin Minsker; Solutions, Winter 2016 Vol. 13, No. 1

Photo courtesy of Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County.  Students on tour: Mr. Richard Robertson at Cam-Tech Manufacturing, a precision aerospace machine company located in Mansfield, Texas, briefs the Mansfield ISD’s practicum for precision metal manufacturing students. Cam-Tech is mentoring six students—two students during each of the spring semester's three six-weeks practicums.

Photo courtesy of Workforce Solutions for Tarrant County. Students on tour: Mr. Richard Robertson at Cam-Tech Manufacturing, a precision
aerospace machine company located in Mansfield, Texas, briefs the Mansfield ISD’s
practicum for precision metal manufacturing students. Cam-Tech is mentoring six students—two
students during each of the spring semester’s three six-weeks practicums.

As a senior at Mansfield High School, Dylan Deen wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after graduation. He knew he liked working with his hands. So when he participated in an internship through the Mansfield Manufacturing Partnership, he knew right away he had found his true calling.

The training program is a partnership of five local companies (Klein Tools, Trinity Forge, Drill King, Camtech and Fluidic Techniques) in conjunction with Workforce Solutions Tarrant County (Tarrant County), Mansfield Independent School District (MISD) and Mansfield Economic Development Corp. (MEDC) and addresses a longtime industry need for highly skilled manufacturing positions, and in particular, a local need for computer numeral control (CNC) machinists. Representatives from the five companies provide guidance and ongoing feedback about the curriculum, classrooms and internship hours; as well as valuable hands-on training to the students throughout the year.

High-school seniors enrolled in the program receive classroom instruction and job shadowing through internships, and handson experience in manufacturing processes, programming, blue print reading, OSHA safety requirements and more. Not only are students exposed to opportunities to gain real skills they could use toward a career path with high wages, they also receive workforce services to prepare them for immediate employment upon graduation such as interviewing skills, résumé preparation and workplace ethics – all while still in high school.

Frontier High School Principal Catherine Hudgins sees the benefits are not only for the students, but for the community as well.

“Our students participating in the manufacturing program are being introduced to a realm that they did not even know existed. Manufacturing is a field that most students know nothing about and are not exposed to through traditional education,” Hudgins said.

“The need for CNC workers in our community was immediate and without our partners in industry, we would have had to wait until our CNC lab was finished, which would have delayed producing viable candidates into the manufacturing field by three years.”

Based on 2014 data, the statewide average annual wage for a CNC machinist is $38,293 and in Tarrant County that same average annual wage is $42,276. An experienced CNC machinist can expect a statewide wage range of $32,350-$52,059 annually.

Legislation passed in 2013 has opened up doors to big changes in school curriculum and has paved the way for educators, industry and state entities to work together to create more opportunities for Texas students to access high-demand jobs with competitive wages, while also meeting the needs of employers to have a skilled workforce now and in the future.

Photo courtesy of Klein Tools.  Dylan Deen, a team member at Klein Tools, was offered a full time job after completing a mentorship through the Mansfield Manufacturing Partnership.

Photo courtesy of Klein Tools. Dylan Deen, a team member at Klein Tools, was offered a full time job after
completing a mentorship through the Mansfield Manufacturing Partnership.

“I really enjoyed the manufacturing internship program because the students got to go to the factories and get experience by doing the real work that we were learning about,” said Deen. “I would definitely recommend this to any student interested in manufacturing because it allowed for me to work with my hands, which is what I enjoy most.”

One of the partner manufacturing companies, Klein Tools, a leading global tool manufacturer, offered Dylan a full time team member position to operate their automated plastisol equipment .

Even students who don’t choose a manufacturing career will benefit from the internships and hands-on experience gained through the program as it will increase their skill level in both postsecondary education and in the workplace. “Without the internship program in place, it would have been unlikely for Klein Tools to find great employees like Dylan,” said Klein Tools Plant Manager Matt Marinovic. “The internship program has a twofold benefit: Our employees work hard to educate, coach, motivate and advertise the exceptional career opportunities that manufacturing has to offer students in our community and students like Dylan have an opportunity to show employers their energy, motivation, intelligence and strong attendance.”