ORIGINAL BOOT CAMP:
Racine Workforce Development Center
Creates a Model Replicated Across the M7 Region
When the creators of the Computer Numerical
Control (CNC) Boot Camp put together the project, collaboration
was the name of the game. They included all stakeholders in
the process - from the early planning stages, through its
implementation, to the final job placements. And as far as
Mark Mundl of the Racine County Workforce Development Center
is concerned, that collaboration has been the reason for the
Boot Camp’s success and 90% employment rate. “To
make this work we need a strong partnership between business,
workforce development, and the Technical College. If one of
the partners doesn’t cooperate or the working relationship
does not function as a partnership, the probability of success
is greatly reduced,” Mundl said.
CNC Operators control the machines that
have an integrated computer to produce manufactured components.
The CNC Boot Camp is a demand-driven program that teaches
people with little or no advanced manufacturing experience
how to program a CNC machine in just 14 weeks. CNC operators
can see their work used in a huge variety of products, including
cars, computer network routers and information technology.
In the fall of 2004, Mundl and the team
saw a need. “We saw an increasing number of job listings
in the paper for CNC operators and heard from employers about
their need for talent. At the height of the demand, there
were 250 openings listed.” And although Gateway Technical
College had a two year mechanical tool tech program, for many
reasons including the program length, this was not producing
enough skilled workers.
A team of workforce development professionals,
technical college staff and business leaders got together
with and brainstormed a solution. What they needed was a training
program – but one that was much more efficient at turning
out trained workers than the current program. They also recognized
the need to give workers training in soft skill, including
a positive work ethic.
The team took this proposal right to the
manufacturers. They wanted to know whether their curriculum
addressed the most basic needs of training for a CNC operator,
and incorporated the employers’ feedback directly into
the curriculum. The result was a 14-week program of 40-hours
a week. The program not only teaches workers how to become
CNC operators, but also how to perform well in soft skills
areas that employers considered important.
The CNC Boot Camp has gained national recognition
as a good example of efficient and successful training. Since
launching in 2005, 62 individuals have completed the 14-week
training and 90% have been employed in industry.
Mundl says that employers have wholeheartedly
joined in on this new approach. “They give us feedback
on the curriculum and send their staff to assist with interviewing
skills, Employers have even had interviewing booths on hand
at completion ceremonies. They don’t waste any time
in hiring these high-demand graduates,” says Mundl.
It is the collaboration that is at the heart
of the Boot Camp’s success. “To make this work
we need a strong, ongoing partnership involving business,
workforce development, and the Gateway Technical College.
That’s the tripod on which this venture depends for
survival,” Mundl says.
Another unique quality of the CNC Boot Camp
model is the diversity in the funding sources supporting the
effort. The Boot Camp receives funding from the Workforce
Investment Act Adult and Dislocated Worker programs, the Trade
Adjustment Act, City of Racine Community Development Block
Grants and individual students that pay their own fees. If
funding from one source falls short, they can enroll students
that qualify from other funding sources to ensure continuity
of the program.
As other parts of the region explore “boot
camp” style training Racine remains a strong model of
For further information on the
Boot Camp model, contact Mark Mundl at Mark.Mundl@goRacine.org
or at (262) 638-6621.