June 20, 2006
Fairfield Works of United States Steel Corp. held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to celebrate the opening of a new Maintenance Training Center. The Center occupies 11,000 square feet in the Flintridge Building, which was remodeled to accommodate classrooms and labs and to expand an existing in-plant welding lab.
"Fairfield Works historically hired maintenance employees directly from the community and supplemented them with graduates from an internal Maintenance Learner Program," said Fairfield Works General Manager Merle Stein. "Recent changes in the labor market have significantly reduced the availability of qualified maintenance employees in the Birmingham area. These include changing demographics, increased use of technology, the time needed to adequately train workers in key competencies, and the significant increase in automobile assembly plants and their suppliers in Alabama. Our new facility will permit Fairfield Works to develop the skilled work force critical to our plant's long-term viability."
Alabama Labor Commissioner Jim Bennett, who joined Stein for the ceremony, said, "There is a serious shortage of skilled mechanical and electrical maintenance personnel in the Birmingham area, and workers with these skills are crucial to the success of our region's manufacturing industries. U. S. Steel is making a significant investment in work force development in Alabama and providing lifelong skills to members of our community who might not otherwise have access to this level of training."
Sixty-three courses and associated hands-on exercises were developed for the Maintenance Technician program. To successfully complete the program, students will be required to demonstrate proficiency in 30 mechanical modules or 33 electrical modules.
Classes, which began on June 5, are being taught by current Fairfield Works employees who have undergone an extensive three-tiered Train the Trainer program, consisting of observing training activities at U. S. Steel's Gary Works in Indiana, a three-day training seminar conducted at Fairfield Works, and several months of close observation and coaching by a training consultant.