Dearborn, Mich., Oxnard, Calif., August 13, 2012 - Since October of 2011, Hernán Luis y Prado has been impacting two serious problems facing our Nation with one brilliant solution: Workshops for Warriors. Through mentorship, training and education, Workshops for Warriors helps put veterans to work in skilled manufacturing jobs.
Improving the lives of veterans and the families who depend on them isn't the only upside to this story. Local manufacturers who have been struggling to find skilled workers are tapping in to the program to fill positions with exceptional people.
Luis y Prado explains, "Workshops for Warriors' mission is to help put America back to work, one veteran at a time. There are more than two million manufacturing jobs open in the U.S., at the same time unemployment among veterans - especially those between 18 and 24 - is extremely high. Hiring our graduates is a win-win for this country and for the people who served it."
As a direct result of a recent $25,000 gift from The SME Education Foundation (SME-EF) via the Gene Haas Foundation, Luis y Prado was able to put his first student through the National Institute for the Metalworking Arts (NIMS) certification program and get Workshops for Warriors on the path to becoming a NIMS accredited facility - the first in San Diego.
Obtaining a NIMS certification, one of two nationally accredited programs in the vocational arts, requires that an individual is trained through a NIMS accredited facility. There is no third party instruction. According to Luis y Prado, "Once we achieve the NIMS accreditation, we will be able to take advantage of additional sources of funding, such as the G.I. Bill, which will help to sustain us for the long term. That is why this gift of cash was so incredibly helpful."
That cash will be put toward meeting NIMS exacting standards. To do so, Luis y Prado must have at least one full-time instructor and at least one student who have both passed the first four phases of NIMS certification. The facility will also be required to meet strict safety, environmental, and equipment requirements. Finally, a team from Washington D.C. will fly out to evaluate and determine whether or not they are eligible. And if the answer is no, there will be more work to do.
"It's not an easy path but NIMS accreditation will not only allow us to apply for sources of additional funding, it will exponentially increase the job prospects for our students. Many of these service members were earning a $5,000 monthly salary in combat. Then one day they step on a land mine and that monthly pay goes down to $700. The devastation of these injuries is not just physical, it is also financial," said Luis y Prado. "That house you purchased thinking you would be making a great salary for four years suddenly becomes unaffordable. Our program can get them back on their feet and give them confidence, skills and better yet, a future that includes a stable, well-paying career."
The $25,000, along with an offer by NIMS president Jim Walls to provide reduced pricing, will cover application fees (which must be renewed yearly) and credentialing fees.
"Forty dollars per student, per credential, when each student is taking 10-20 credentials, adds up quickly. Between the gift from the SME Education and Gene Haas Foundations, and the support from NIMS, we'll have everything covered for a full 14 months," said Luis y Prado.
Bart Aslin, CEO of the SME Education Foundation, found out about Workshops for Warriors through Iven May of CNC Software after he had learned of Luis y Prado's successes. CNC Software has been helping Workshops for Warriors since early 2011 and has donated 22 licenses of Mastercam software and twelve CAD/CAM workstations. Aslin was so impressed by CNC Software's donations, as well as Luis y Prado's work; he knew he wanted to support them in some way.
"He [Luis y Prado] is the real deal. He completely understands that without skilled workers, U.S. manufacturing is in trouble. The fact that he's filling that need by helping veterans, well, that's just the icing on the cake," said Aslin. "The funds that we manage for the Gene Haas Foundation are earmarked for programs that assist students interested in manufacturing careers. Workshops for Warriors is a stellar example of how acquiring these valuable skills can do more than provide jobs - it can change lives."
Additional Support from local and national industry continues to evolve, which is crucial for Luis y Prado to achieve his ultimate goal: opening hundreds of centers connected to every military concentration in the country. Right now, the focus is on his immediate needs. "Finding and paying for qualified instructors, administrators, a QA manager, a safety, environmental, and compliance manager, and insurance is a daily challenge. In addition, cash, equipment, and consumable donations are a constant requirement. Lack of funding for these expenses has been the downfall of many vocational education programs," said Luis y Prado.
According to Luis y Prado, the armed services have cut back on vocational training for many of the same reasons. Traditionally, joining the service meant unmatched on-the-job training and support, however, because that is predicated on having enough people to pass on their knowledge, those opportunities are dwindling. Many of those experts have retired, which Luis y Prado says has led to a massive outsourcing.
"Now even the contractors, who used to cull their talent from the services, are struggling because the knowledge pool is shrinking," said Luis y Prado. "If you can't build up the infrastructure to build weaponry, ships and aircraft, the U.S. won't be able to maintain its military and economic dominance. I refuse to get to the point where we must ask China to build our warships."
"We used to run this country with a huge amount of service members: machinists, welders, fabricators, we don't want to lose that knowledge. My mission is to create the world's best veteran vocational training center right here in San Diego. With support from the Gene Haas and SME Education Foundations, we could open up these centers to younger students. I envision a world where our veteran vocational experts would teach a younger generation of elementary school, junior high, and high school students about how to become future machinists and welders."
A veteran himself, Luis y Prado also has a background in electrical and mechanical engineering and helped to build the Navy's first all-electric war ship. This makes him the ideal person to lead the charge. "The common denominator is veterans," said Luis y Prado. "Veterans have always been interwoven into what makes America so strong, and the backbone is vocational training. The military, along with industry and its partners, must support these efforts to prevent the U.S. from becoming a has-been nation. Veterans have proven that they are capable of any challenge. Our mission is to train them to meet America's Manufacturing needs. What better way to not only succeed, but to also give back."
Workshops for Warriors has been granted nonprofit designation from the State of California and has 501(c) 3 designation from the Internal Revenue Service. Visit: www.workshopsforwarriors.org
About The Gene Haas Foundation:
The Gene Haas Foundation, Oxnard, California, was created in 1999 by Gene Haas, founder and president of Haas Automation, Inc. (HaasCNC), the largest machine tool manufacturer in the United States. Created to help fund community humanitarian causes, it has provided more than $10 million to more than 900 non-profit and charitable community causes. One of its primary goals is providing financial assistance for students interested in manufacturing-based careers. Scholarship programs are available through career centers, technical schools, community colleges and universities. Visit http://ghaasfoundation.org/
About SME Education Foundation:
The SME Education Foundation is committed to inspiring, preparing and supporting the next generation of manufacturing engineers and technologists for the advancement of manufacturing education. Created by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers in 1979, the SME Education Foundation has provided more than $31 million since 1980 in grants, scholarships and awards through its partnerships with corporations, organizations, foundations, and individual donors. Visit www.smeef.org. Also visit www.CareerMe.org for information on advanced manufacturing careers and www.ManufacturingisCool.com, our award-winning Web site for young people.
The National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS) was formed in 1995 by the metalworking trade associations to develop and maintain a globally competitive American workforce. The NIMS organization sets skills standards for the industry, certifies individual skills against the standards and accredits training programs that meet NIMS quality requirements. Visit https://www.nims-skills.org
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