Patrick & Henry Community College continues technology and manufacturing education excellence through program expansion

Published: May. 24, 2022 at 5:18 PM EDT
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MARTINSVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - It was simple pen to paper Tuesday, inking the start of a brand-new chapter with the help of an automation company and other partners.

Patrick & Henry Community College celebrated a partnership with Festo Didactic, as the two strive to provide another level of advanced technology and manufacturing education to students.

“When we started out certification program in 2017, we always intended to have three levels,” begins Tony Oran, CEO of Festo Didactic. “We’re finally developing the level three in partnership with Patrick and Henry Community College because of their facility, because of their high quality instruction. As such, we will be able to deliver the first industry 4.0 credentials at this third level, which is the advanced or expert level.”

A pathway the groups feel will continue to boost economic development and fill jobs.

“According to North American Manufacturers Association, there’s 2.1 million in the US expected to go unfilled by 2030,” he continues.

“Ensuring our regions continued economic vibrancy and vitality means that we must have a skilled, reliable workforce to fill these new positions while also continuing to meet the demands of our current employers. Today’s signing ceremony announcing our new expanded partnership helps to meet this need,” adds Greg Hodges, President of Patrick & Henry Community College.

“Most companies choose a location now, where they’re going to expand or develop a new facility around availability of a skilled workforce. By having this program here at Patrick & Henry Community College to serve Patrick and Henry counties and this whole region, we can actually continue to fuel that economic renaissance,” Oran explains.

Fuel also being used to ignite a flame in youth. The partnership is also vowing to make STEM and technology education accessible to young students, providing exposure at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. The goal? To create a limitless, versatile workforce.

“We’re creating stackable credentials, meaning that students can earn a certification in electricity and then come back later and develop and earn a certification in robotics fundamentals,” says Oran.

So far, Patrick & Henry Community College has given 1,500 credentials to 250 students.

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