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Abstract Details for Innovative Strategy Profile: Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center (WWRC)

he Manufacturing Technology Training (MTT) Program is one of the many career pathways offered by the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center (WWRC). The MTT program was developed as a pre-apprenticeship program through close collaboration between the Wilson Workforce and Rehabilitation Center (WWRC) and the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Development Board (SVWDB). The SVWDB’s Valley 2 Virginia Apprenticeship Initiative seeks to get more individuals engaged in apprenticeship opportunities throughout Virginia. With this push, it is also necessary to prepare individuals to be ready for these apprenticeships. WWRC has designed the MTT program in partnership with the SVWDB and employers to create a place for individuals with disabilities who are interested in a career in manufacturing to gain the skills needed to enter an apprenticeship. Both SVWDB and WWRC realize the benefits of apprenticeships and by working together they have created a continuum of support for individuals to reach full-time employment with competitive salaries. WWRC is working to add additional pre-apprenticeship opportunities that can connect to other SVWDB apprenticeships. The MTT program provides training in the skills needed to enter a manufacturing position, such as warehouse worker, machine operator, or instrument technician. It also prepares students to sit for the industry recognized Manufacturing Specialist (MS) and Manufacturing Technician, Level 1 (MT1) exams. Students in the program participate in a highly specialized combination of classroom learning and hands-on work experiences with support from highly qualified staff. For example, a behavior specialist works with the students before the program begins and is in the classroom every day for the first third of the program. WWRC’s relationships with employers and apprenticeship programs throughout the state have helped them to design a training program that directly aligns with employer needs and to create a seamless path to employment.