A career versus a job
One company’s approach to employee development
Baron Machine Co., Laconia, N.H., views its tuition reimbursement program as a win-win for the company and its employees—one that will attract individuals looking for a career versus a job.
In August of 2013 Laconia, N.H.-based Baron Machine Co. announced a new tuition reimbursement program aimed at furthering the company’s existing initiatives to enhance and innovate its metal fabricating capabilities (Figure 1).
Jeremy Baron, vice president of the 55-year-old, family-owned and -operated business, recently participated in an interview with thefabricator.com about the program.
Question: What motivated Baron Machine Co. to launch the tuition reimbursement program?
Baron: It’s a win-win for us to offer this program. Machining is an ever-changing and always evolving industry. Having our machinists continue their education and stay up-to-date with new technology benefits not only our employees, but also our customers.
Question: What classes do you think your employees will want to pursue?
Baron: Our local community college has a brand-new advanced manufacturing program. Lakes Region Community College is one of seven community colleges in the state that have formed a consortium that received a $19.9 million federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant in 2010. Funds from the grant are being used to develop or update advanced manufacturing curriculums and laboratories across the Community College System of New Hampshire. We are hoping this is the spark the industry needs to get young people interested in pursuing a career in machining.
Question: Is the reimbursement limited to classes taken at Lakes Region Community College?
Baron: Not at all. The program can be used at any school or institution as long as the company deems the subject matter relevant to the employee’s position or job title.
Question: Do the employees have to make a commitment to stay with the company for a certain amount of time after completing the classes to receive the benefit? We sometimes hear shop owners say that they don’t want to invest in training employees who might then leave for other jobs.
Baron: We ask our employees to simply give us a year after the completion of the course. We have sent several employees to programming or CAD software training and have been able to retain them. We simply feel that the fact that we are willing to invest in our employees by offering education for free gives them a feeling of being a bigger part of the company.
Question: How do you see this initiative improving Baron Machine?
Baron: It’s hard to come up with a reason how it wouldn’t improve Baron Machine. We’re offering our machinists a chance to gain more confidence and knowledge in the workplace. I think it will attract a caliber of prospective employees that are interested in a career versus a job with us.
Question: Do you ever envision establishing a formal training program within the company?
Baron: We have a training process, not a program. The community college also offers a free soft skills training program. Some of the topics they cover are employer expectations, communication, problem-solving /decision-making, and team building, just to name a few. We are currently looking into this to see how we can use this great tool as part of our training process/program.
Question: Is there anything else you’d like share about the program?
Baron: We are very thankful for Don Brough and the staff at the Lakes Region Community College for their everlasting energy and determination toward seeing this program through and launching what I believe to be a very strong tool to keeping manufacturing in our state of New Hampshire alive and thriving.
Jeremy Baron can be reached at email@example.com.