Times Record column: SMCC plays key role in Mölnlycke job training

Article courtesy of the Times Record

SMCC plays key role in Mölnlycke job training

GUEST COLUMN
BY RONALD G. CANTOR

Ronald G. Cantor What does it take to create jobs with decent wages and compete in today’s global economy? How can we close the skills gap while making Brunswick Landing an engine of progress that drives Maine’s growth?

At Southern Maine Community College, we believe it can be done through partnership, entrepreneurship and creative collaborations that are focused on success in the real, emerging world. This is not only our mission, but also a hallmark of our work at the Midcoast Campus in Brunswick.

A gold key changed hands when Mölnlycke Health Care unveiled its new manufacturing facility at Brunswick Landing — just a stone’s throw from Southern Maine Community College’s Midcoast Campus. The $50 million investment has already created dozens of jobs that will multiply as production of surgical and wound care products ramps up.

The Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority and many other partners came together to support, enhance and make possible Mölnlycke’s investment in a future of profitable growth.

Southern Maine Community College is proud to be one of those partners and a key resource in recruiting and training the workers who are building Mölnlycke’s success.

Part of that success comes from Maine Quality Centers, a program offered through the Maine Community College System that allows Southern Maine Community College to provide businesses that are newly locating or expanding operations in Maine with customized workforce training at no cost to the business or to trainees.

To date, Maine Quality Centers have helped 224 Maine businesses expand, resulting in 12,670 new jobs and $2.1 billion in private investment in Maine.

In 2011, in partnership with Southern Maine Community College, Mölnlycke obtained support from Maine Quality Centers to recruit and train 50 to 60 new hires.

That same year, 2011, Southern Maine Community College was focused on property conveyance and renovation of former Navy facilities. The college was busy establishing a new campus with vital connections to partners ranging from The University of Maine and local K- 12 school systems to hospitals, manufacturers, ship builders, fire departments and arts organizations.

Fortunately for me, SMCC was also searching for a new president.

The day before my interview, my wife and I drove our rental car around Brunswick Landing and sensed great potential. We hadn’t yet heard of Mölnlycke — let alone tried to pronounce it — but it’s exactly the type of great potential we envisioned.

By summer 2012, I had completed my first year on the job and gained appreciation for the way Maine Quality Centers’ education and training programs are coordinated and delivered through Maine’s seven community colleges. In June, I shook hands with Mölnlycke representatives and we signed a partnership agreement to get things rolling.

Mölnlycke’s production managers and HR staff then met with our representatives to assist in recruitment, assessment and post-hire training for these new jobs, bearing such titles as production operator, packaging operator and quality control operator.

To help Mölnlycke identify highly qualified candidates, Southern Maine Community College began administering pre-hire assessments in January 2013. Mölnlycke then chose which candidates to move forward in the interview process, and these candidates were asked to take three additional assessments at Southern Maine Community College’s Midcoast Campus: computer literacy, general reasoning and mechanical aptitude.

All assessment scores were reported to Human Resources at Mölnlycke, allowing them make the best hiring decisions in line with the company’s criteria and needs.

By February 2013, Mölnlycke had hired its first batch of new employees generated by the Maine Quality Centers partnership.

Wasting no time, the new employees walked the few hundred yards between Mölnlycke and Southern Maine Community College, where they began training in logical problem solving, federal safety requirements and developing good manufacturing practices.

More training sessions and more new hires are in process.

This is how partners come together to create and fill jobs in the emerging economy. We’re developing a skilled work force and putting Mainers to work in good jobs. Our focus is on the future and on global competitiveness, right here in Brunswick.

Southern Maine Community College is ready to partner with you. Envision a future.

RONALD G. CANTOR, Ph.D., is president of Southern Maine Community College.

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