Tour of Renovated Center Includes Talks with Students, Staff and Industry Reps
Top officials from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) toured the Johnston County Workforce Development Center Friday as part of the organization’s 2019 State of Manufacturing Tour. The 90-minute visit by Jay Timmons, president and CEO of NAM, and Carolyn Lee, executive director of NAM’s Manufacturing Institute, included a tour of the facility, discussions with Johnston County business and governmental leaders, and conversations with Johnston Community College (JCC) students and trainees.
Joshua Thompson, a human resources executive at Novo Nordisk and member of the JCC Board of Trustees, explained the center’s role in his company’s success. “It wouldn’t be possible without collaboration from the county,” Thomas told NAM leaders. Like neighboring Grifols, Novo Nordisk is rapidly expanding its Johnston County manufacturing presence and joins college and county leaders in investing in a workforce pipeline that meets long-term, regional talent needs. “This is what enables us to invest and grow in this community,” Thompson said. “We cannot continue to grow and prosper just by trading talent.”
The Johnston County Workforce Development Center opened in 2005. The 30,000 square-foot facility underwent a $1.3 million round of renovations last year, which transformed its previous academic design into a layout that replicates the real-world bio-pharma workspaces trainees encounter as they fill jobs at Grifols or Novo Nordisk. The center offers hands-on lab training and simulation opportunities, for example, utilizing today’s bio-manufacturing environments.
NAM CEO Jay Timmons, who once worked on the staffs of former Governor James Martin and former U.S. Rep. Alex McMillan, said his Washington, DC-based organization “serves as ambassadors and recruiters in getting young people interested in manufacturing.” That means getting a first-hand view of best practices in skills training and workforce development. Clayton was one of 25 cities in eight states NAM is visiting as part of this year’s tour. “We’re incredibly impressed with what you’ve built here,” Timmons said of the Johnston County Workforce Development Center. “We’d like to see more facilities like this one across the country.”
Among those Timmons and Lee heard from was Amanda Maynard, a JCC student pursuing an Associate’s degree in Applied Science. A one-time dog groomer, Maynard learned of career opportunities at Novo Nordisk through a neighbor who works at the Denmark-based maker of diabetes care products. Maynard’s training began with the BioWorks program. “I fell in love with what I was being taught,” she said. From there it was entry into the Associates program. “I would ultimately like to work in bio-medical engineering,” said Maynard, one of several JCC students who shared their experiences with NAM officials.
NAM is the nation’s largest manufacturing association, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector across all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women in the U.S. and contributes $2.25 trillion to the nation’s economy each year. With about 14,000 members, the organization is a powerful advocacy voice for policy action that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy. There are an estimated 428,000 open manufacturing positions today, Timmons told Johnston County leaders. The number is going to grow in the next 10 years. “About 4.6 million jobs will need to be filled in the next 10 years,” he said. “Some 2.4 million of those won’t be filled unless we can get high school students more excited about manufacturing careers.”