May 28, 2012
Grant helps train Presto employees

The Dan River Region Collaborative (DRRC) granted a request from Presto for $63,000 to finance training efforts implemented through the Workforce Readiness Initiative. This grant will allow for nearly 5,000 employee training hours as the company is experiencing training needs due to recent growth and expansion at their South Boston facility. 

"We are delighted to be the recipients of such a timely and generous grant and to have the opportunity to partner with the SVHEC to develop and resource training specifically tailored to our needs. We are proud to be located in a state and region where political, education, business and community leaders recognize, support and fund critical programs like the innovate Workforce Readiness Initiative to help employers and employees like us keep pace with rapidly changing demands of doing business in today's highly competitive global economy. Our thanks goes out to all who have come together to make this initiative happen," said Rick Dockstader, Presto plant manager.

Dan River Region Collaborative supports Presto as a pilot for this training program with the goal of replicating this model for other manufacturers if successful.

The Workforce Readiness Initiative is managed by the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center and partially funded by the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission. The initiative is designed to encourage retention and growth of businesses in southern Virginia.

Working with Presto and regional training providers, the SVHEC Workforce Services developed a unique employer-driven and comprehensive training program to improve the skills of more than 200 incumbent workers at Presto.

The training program addresses two major concerns common among manufacturers: retention of incumbent workers and a sufficient applicant pool from which to choose new "work ready" employees.

"We are excited to partner with industry and educational providers as well as individual participants to provide such an impactful program for our community and our region," said Sandra Conner, project coordinator for SVHEC Workforce Services.

Presto's training needs are a direct result of a recent expansion including five new production lines. The SVHEC was tasked by the governor's office to coordinate the multi-year, multi-skill noncredit training initiative.

The Virginia Manufacturers Association, GENEDGE Alliance and Danville Community College will provide the first phase of training, which includes workshops on problem solving and error proofing as well as hands-on simulations with a focus on lean processes.

Training will be aimed at entry-level employees, team leaders, and maintenance mechanics. Upon completing the first phase of training, employees will receive the Virginia's Career Readiness Certificate, a credential recognized by employers throughout the Commonwealth and many other states. The large-scale, customized project is coordinated by SVHEC Workforce Services, and will result in the delivery of 19,500 hours of training.

"The Dan River Region Collaborative supports Presto's training initiatives with the anticipation that the program will serve as a model for expanding similar efforts on a local and regional level. The ability to leverage public and private dollars to support regional workforce initiatives is critical to our region's economic success as we work together to develop talent," states Dr. Julie Brown, the DRRC project director.

The Dan River Region Collaborative is a group of funders in the Southern Piedmont Region of Virginia who joined forces to impact the region's workforce development system.

The Dan River Region Collaborative seeks to improve both the quality of jobs and the capacity of workers by promoting change at three levels: within individuals in terms of job creation and career advancements; in employers or businesses in terms of recruitment and retention of skilled employees, and to impact systematic changes that will result in policy changes and ultimately a better workforce development system.

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