By Olivia McMurrey
Special to North Carolina Construction News
A new, $6 million millwright and carpenter training center in Charlotte is set to begin offering classes in February. The investment will help contractors and facility owners staff projects with elite craftspeople who have the specialized skills needed to complete work safely, properly and in a timely manner.
The expanded training capacity the 25,000-sq. ft. center provides will increase the number of highly skilled millwrights available throughout the Carolinas, said Logan Brown, Eastern Region director for the Southern States Millwright Regional Council (SSMRC). “It will provide more opportunities for people to get the skills they need in the geographic areas where the work is going on,” Brown said.
The training center sits on 6 acres, near interstates 77 and 85, purchased with help from a $300,000 grant from the SSMRC.
“I’m excited about having a training center that’s centrally located,” said Shon Douglas, SSMRC training director for the Carolinas and Georgia. “I’m also looking forward to bringing in new trainees. Opportunities for millwrights in this area are through the roof. There are a lot of power plants and food-and-beverage facilities.”
The SSMRC also donated new training equipment worth approximately $300,000.
Two mechatronics/robot stations will help train millwrights for the automotive industry and other industries that use robotics and other automated systems. A conveyor prop will provide training on floor conveyor and power and free monorail systems used in many manufacturing processes such as automotive and food and beverage.
A state-of-the-art welding shop with 10 Clean Air welding booths is part of the facility. Welding training encompasses gas metal arc welding (GMAW/MIG), gas tungsten arc welding (GTAW/TIG), and shielded metal arc welding (SMAW/stick). Two welding booths will be certified for American Welding Society tests.
The Charlotte center will offer customized training based on unique projects and jobsite needs.
“We can tailor any type of program just for one particular contract,” Douglas said. “We’ve put together training for specific risks that weren’t even in the OSHA book because the hazard was brand new.”
Douglas said the new Charlotte facility will likely result in many people choosing an industrial-construction career when they otherwise would not have. “It’s either that or a technical college, and one of our big selling points is when you get done with your four-year apprenticeship, you don’t owe anything,” he said. “You have people who want to work and make a living while they’re going to school. And on top of that, you have benefits – insurance and pension – to go along with the apprenticeship.”
Brown said SSMRC maps reveal large concentrations of skilled millwrights around the organization’s existing training centers, and the new center should create a similar density area around Charlotte.
“It’s an investment and reinvestment that shows we are listening and our values are aligned with our industry partners’ values, with safety and training being chief among them,” Brown said.
The training center’s shop layout is open so visiting contractors can easily see all types of training provided. To schedule a tour of the center, contact Shon Douglas at firstname.lastname@example.org or (706) 426-8542.
Olivia McMurrey is the communications and marketing director for the Southern States Millwright Regional Council.