NEWBERRY — Newberry County Career Center students got a good look firsthand at what their experience in the classroom can do for them after graduation.
Seniors in programs such as HVAC, welding, machine tool, and mechatronics took tours throughout Newberry’s Industrial Park to Caterpillar, Kiswire, Komatsu and SWM on April 29.
NCCC Director Buddy Livingston said the students were taken on-site to see how it relates to what they are currently doing in the classroom.
“I thought it was a phenomenal opportunity,” Livingston said. “It gave them a lot of exposure to what the real world was and really showed how what they’re currently doing in the classroom relates to what the workforce has to offer.”
Livingston said the feedback he received from the NCCC teachers who accompanied the students was all positive, and that the employees of the institutions had welcomed them with open arms.
While in the facilities, the students saw the training equipment and production operations. Livingston said they emphasized safety features and how important it was to be at work on time on a regular basis.
“Everything we teach was reinforced by their comments,” Livingston said. “We want to do this a minimum of once a year.”
One of the tour guides at Komatsu was Chris Milstead from Pomaria and a graduate of the Newberry County Career Center. Don Russell, general manager at Komatsu, said Milstead was an outstanding employee.
“Chris started with Komatsu as a machinist. He still has a connection with the machining instructor at the Career Center. He was promoted to a Team Leader, Supervisor and currently is the Warehouse Manager,” Russell said. “We are glad to do the student tours and showing our young people potential career opportunities.”
Livingston said he appreciates the relationships NCCC has with the Chamber of Commerce, the City of Newberry, and the business community for making that happen. “Without their help, it wouldn’t have been possible,” he said.
The idea for the industrial park tours came from Mayor Foster Senn and Ted Smith from the Newberry Chamber of Commerce.
Smith said he felt the program had been a great success, for which he was happy.
“We’re trying to keep kids in the county after high school,” Smith said. “We want them to recognize that there are jobs right here with the industries we have.”
“This was a great opportunity for the students to see what modern manufacturing looks like,” Senn said. “We have impressive factories in Newberry County that compete worldwide, and they can provide someone with a rewarding career. I appreciate these companies enthusiastically opening their doors for the students.”