AJAC’s Regional Program Manager, Heather Collins, and Manufacturing Academy instructor, Stephen Matczak, sat down with Michelle Smith from the South Central Workforce Council to talk about AJAC’s exciting new apprenticeship in the food processing industry. Discover what the apprenticeship entails, the length of the program, and the career opportunities that are available upon completion of the apprenticeship.
Learn more about AJAC’s new Machine Operator apprenticeship here.
The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) is excited to offer a new CNC Programmer Apprenticeship this spring! This program combines on-the-job training (OJT) with evening classes one night a week. AJAC apprentices will take 1 class per quarter, 3 quarters per year, for 3 years (45 total credits). If you have not completed AJAC’s 4-year machinist apprenticeship program, this is a 3-year, 6,000 hour program. This program is accredited through a local community or technical college giving you the opportunity to earn college credits.
Become A Journey-Level Programmer
Students in the AJAC CNC Programmer Apprenticeship will learn to use CAD and CAM fundamentals to design for manufacturability (develop tooling). Students will gain a thorough understanding of the underlying manufacturing processes that are essential to developing a part program; they will know how to build a part and will understand the role of the CNC Programmer in a team and an organization. In Year 3, students will learn 2-axis, 3-axis, and 4-axis CAM tool paths for mill and lathe as well as advanced CNC Programming techniques.
This program is designed as a training for journey level Machinists with two entry points. It has been structured as a 4,000 hour program for journey-level machinist graduates or those with a college certificate/degree.
For individuals with at least 5 years of proven machining experience, this is a 6,000 hour program to accommodate experienced Machinists achieving their journey level status through work experience but lacking formal academic preparation.
Based on subject matter experts and employer recommendations, the following is the candidate eligibility criteria:
- Industry Trained | 5+ Years of Proven Machining Experience. Eligible for participation includes requirement to take all 9 classes and complete 6,000 hours of OJT.
- College Certificate or Degree + Industry Trained | 5 Years of Experience/Certificate or Degree. Credit for up to 3 classes of the first year’s coursework and 2,000 OJT Hours.
- Apprenticeship Completion: Journey-Level Machinist. Automatically awarded first year course work (3 classes) and 2,000 OJT Hours.
CNC Programmer Entry Points
The following table is a breakdown of required (X) RSI Classes for each eligible participant category. View a PDF version of this table here.
Related Supplemental Instruction
CNC Programmer apprentices will take up to 9 college-level classes (450) hours designed by AJAC’s subject matter experts. Class is held one night a week for 4 hours during the fall, winter, and spring (summers off). Classes will vary between in-person and online learning. Each class is worth 5 college credits totaling up to 45 credits upon completion.
CNC Programmer Classes
This apprenticeship provides students the opportunity to learn critical programming skills covering the following subject areas:
- Technical Drawings, GD&T, and Precision Fits
- Shop Algebra, Applied Geometry and Trigonometry
- CAD Fundamentals & Design for Manufacturability
- Manufacturing Process Related to Project Management
- Basic Tool Path for Mill & Lathe
- Multi Axis/Indexing
- Advanced CNC Programming Techniques
On-the-Job Training Competencies Learned
The graphic above is a guide of tasks and hours for the on-the-job training portion of the program. The 6,000 hours will be completed over the course of the apprenticeship.
We understand this may not be a full-time role for apprentices, as they will be splitting their time between shop and programming. Apprentices have flexibility over the course of the program to complete the guide of tasks and hours. The apprentice shall be instructed and trained in all operations and methods customarily used on the various machines.
Cost & College Tuition
In Washington State, when you engage in apprenticeship, college tuition is reduced by 50%. In most cases that means classes cost around $275 per quarter, 9 classes total. Roughly $2,475 out-of-pocket cost per apprentice for the entirety of the program.
For AJAC machinist graduates, the cost will be around $1,650.
To reserve your spot in AJAC’s first CNC Programmer Apprenticeship, please complete our online application. After you have submitted your information, an AJAC representative will contact you for next steps.
What was the last experience that made you a stronger person?
Making the move back to Seattle was something that made me a stronger person. Moving and going through a worldwide pandemic at the same time was hard. 2020 has taught me how to rely on those closest to me and find inner peace from within as well as learn how to master a few new meals.
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
The person I would choose to mentor me would be Lebron James. The reason I am chose Lebron is because his overall growth over the past 17 years has been amazing. I would love to sit and ask questions about his inspirations and what motivates his drive and determination. Speaking to someone who has not had the father figure in his life yet silenced his doubters—I would love this conversation.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love to spend time with my family and when I can, golf is a past-time of mine. I would have to admit anything dealing with the great outside is something I can handle. I have been called a party starter, so I guess I can be the life of the party as well!
How would your best friends describe you?
Now this is a good question. My friends would say I am the same person that they met 38 years ago. I love to have fun and play jokes on my friends. They would also let me know that we have not had a fallout in 30 years. So, bottom line is, they would say he must be cool, to have been my best friend for 38 years.
Which is your favorite four-legged creature and why?
His name is Blu and he is the best dog you can find for free. I love love love dogs. They can make you smile when humans fail to do so, and they wont even say a word. Having a dog is one of the best things a person can do for their lives. My dog gives me strength and comfort when I need it and he knows me better than most. I am one of those people who talk to their dogs and then answers as if he would be speaking. So yes, that is me.
What will your new role at AJAC include?
My role here at AJAC will be teaching the Manufacturing Academy pre-apprenticeship program. I will be providing instructional training for individuals that are wanting to start their career in the manufacturing industry. This 10-week course covers all aspects that pertain to the development of skills required for an individual to be successful working within this trade. I’m an excited for this opportunity to provide the education needed to assist others in starting new careers that will pay a living wage and help improve their quality of life.
What is your favorite part about working in the non-profit industry?
The non-profit industry has never failed to attract an energetic and passionate workforce. I love the fact that non-profit heroes (employees) put their heart and soul into their work even when the resources are spread quite thin compared to larger corporations.
Even on my most challenging days, when I’m swamped with deadlines to meet, it’s so easy to stay motivated when I know that I’m working to educate and empower people from all walks of life to take back control of their careers and better their quality of life. All of the hard work truly pays off when I read an article or watch a video about a student that went through the Manufacturing Academy program and went on to graduate from their apprenticeship. There’s a ripple effect to the work that we do here at AJAC, as we strive to help people better themselves, in turn, they become inspired to help make the world a better place.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love the outdoors…I lived in Alaska for 7 years when I was in the military and I fell in love with the minimalist survival hike/camp concept, never looking back! Within this concept lies the idea that intentional discomfort provides us with the opportunity for self-growth and reflection; as well as, confidence in self and metal clarity. I could honestly say I am an adept minimalist hiker/camper, which means that minimal food and supplies is backed for the trip and much of what is needed is source from the land or we do without. My husband and I hike in to remote camping locations all over Washington and Oregon. My one tip to anyone that wants to try this style of camping out would be to camp need a natural water source.
I also like to snowboard, but my husband and friends question why I keep torqueing myself. HAHA. To say the least, I’m not a rockstar on the board, but I’ve got resolve because I keep trying.
What’s one thing about you that would surprise me?
I play women’s Roller Derby. Oh, and I practice Brazilian Jujitsu.
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?
Alaskan Style Street Tacos..! Fresh wild caught lemon butter salmon or halibut with fresh pico de gallo, black beans, brown rice, guac, and a bit of garlic dill sauce. There is only 1 word…Amazing..!
If You Could Travel Anywhere In The World, Where Would It Be?
Blue Lagoon Hot Springs in Iceland. I love going to hot springs everywhere I travel, as I’m a huge believer in hydrotherapy and the concept of “Water is Life”. I want to go to the blue lagoon someday during the northern lights.
No-cost training to launch this spring to upskill machine operators through registered apprenticeship
YAKIMA, WA-November 19, 2020 – Over the next 10 years, 596 food-processing employees across Washington State will transition to upper level positions within the company, many requiring skill advancement. Due to a lack of training opportunities in Central Washington, the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) and South Central Workforce Council have developed the first Machine Operator Registered Apprenticeship program for Washington State’s growing food-manufacturing sector.
AJAC’s 18-month Machine Operator apprenticeship combines 3,000 hours (93%) of structured on-the-job training in your company, on your machines and using your work processes, coupled with 300 hours (7%) of college-level classroom instruction accredited through Yakima Valley College.
At their employer, apprentices work under seasoned mentors to grow skillsets in key areas of focus including:
- Safety and sanitation
- Industrial maintenance and mechatronics
- Equipment set-up
- Quality assurance and inspection
- Preventative and predicative maintenance.
- Food and material science (perishable/non-perishable)
- Food manufacturing technology
In the classroom, apprentices learn the theory behind machine operation including machine operator technology, industrial maintenance, mechatronics, quality assurance and material science.
Upon completion of the apprenticeship, apprentices will receive a nationally recognized journey-level card from the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.
To date, AJAC has enrolled 35 apprentices across Washington State employed at food manufacturers including Washington Beef, TransOcean Products, Trident Seafoods, Yakima Chief Hops, Tree Top, and Macro Plastics. The growth in Washington State for Packaging and Filling Machine Operators is significantly higher than the rest of the country. With a 12% growth rate over 10 years, the workforce will need training to meet the economic demand. To meet this economic demand, employers can utilize AJAC’s no-cost Machine Operator apprenticeship as a means grow talent from within and develop a sustainable pipeline of skilled workers for decades to come.
Starting spring 2021, employers can enroll their employees into the apprenticeship program and immediately begin their college-level classroom instruction. The six-course program also gives apprentices the opportunity to earn college credits that can apply towards a post-secondary degree.
Employers interested in offering this apprenticeship to their employees can contact AJAC’s Regional Program Manager, Heather Collins at email@example.com or 509-574-1958.
AJAC launched in 2008 with an investment from Washington State to skill-up the advanced manufacturing workforce through registered apprenticeship. AJAC developed and implemented 10 high-growth, in-demand apprenticeship occupations to serve a variety of demographics, industries, and companies across the state. AJAC serves approximately 400 apprentices per year at close to 300 companies, collaborating with 12 community colleges to ensure that all apprentices are receiving college credits while working towards a journey-level certificate.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY – EQUAL ACCESS – It is the mission of the Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee (AJAC) that training shall be without discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, veteran status or as otherwise specified by law. WorkSource is an equal-opportunity partnership of organizations that provide employment and training services. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to people with disabilities. Washington Relay Service: 711.