Morgan Olson training program set to start in March
The Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, launched last fall by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, is set to begin its first big project in March, training an estimated 703 people to work at Morgan Olson LLC’s new plant in the Danville area at no cost to the employer.
Many will train in classrooms and the welding lab at Danville Community College, although some will train in Tennessee, according to the college. VEDP will oversee training for the first year to 18 months, and DCC will take over after that, creating a pipeline for future employees over a proposed three-year timeline, says Debra Holley, the college’s vice president of academic and student services.
“We take the people that the company hires,” explains Mike Grundmann, VEDP’s senior vice president of workforce solutions, “and we teach them how to apply their skills to the specific processes of the company.”
The largest manufacturer of walk-in delivery vans in North America, Morgan Olson plans to hire more than 350 full-time workers for its Pittsylvania County facility as soon as this summer, ultimately becoming the county’s largest private employer.
One of the major reasons the Michigan-based company decided to move its $57.8 million vehicle assembly line into the former Ikea furniture plant was the promise of employees trained on its specific technologies, says VEDP President and CEO Stephen Moret. “This is the first major project to make use of the program.”
VEDP started the accelerator program with the Virginia Community College System last year as a way to draw new business to the state.
“We’ll know more after we finish the needs analysis,” Grundmann says. “When we get the company’s processes and skill requirements together, the college will then be in position to understand the skill sets required to work at Morgan Olson. The analysis will also determine how many trainees we will need to hire on a short and long-term basis.”
“It really is a win-win for everyone,” says Alexis Ehrhardt, president and CEO of Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a win for the community college, it’s a win for the employer, and it’s a win for employees who can accelerate their skills so that they can be on the job and effective immediately, and the company can be productive as quickly as possible.”