Two Fuquay-Varina businesses receive grants to further employee education

twanbaugh@newsobserver.comJune 17, 2014 

— As more jobs require specialized training and education, it can be tough for employees to stay ahead of the game.

But two businesses in Fuquay-Varina are helping their employees do just that.

John Deere Turf Care and TE Connectivity have both received an Incumbent Workforce Training Grant through the Capital Area Workforce Development Board.

The companies plan to use the money for employee education in an effort to increase global and local competitiveness and to avoid layoffs.

John Deere Turf Care, which specializes in mowing, golf and turf equipment, will receive $17,875 to train employees in welding. TE Connectivity, which focuses on energy research and development, will receive $23,305 to train employees on specialized software.

“The grant will help develop our employees so we will be able to run more efficiently,” said Rosalind Fox, factory manager for John Deere Turf Care.

The money will not be used to hire new workers. But continuing to train the existing workforce is important for any manufacturing company, said Jim Seymour, Fuquay-Varina’s economic development director.

“Technologies are always evolving, and this training is going to allow these companies to better compete,” Seymour said.

At John Deere’s Fuquay-Varina plant, welding is a big part of workers’ jobs, Seymour said. Employees assemble and test many of the company’s machines.

“Welding is one of those complicated technologies that’s always evolving,” Seymour said.

John Deere Turf Care is working with Wake Tech Community College to develop a class to train a new group of welders, Fox said.

“It is a skill set we are currently lacking,” she said.

John Deere Turf Care and TE Connectivity are part of what is known as the “Big 4” in Fuquay-Varina. The group also includes the Bob Barker Co., a a detention center supply company, and Southbend, which produces commercial cooking equipment. Together, the four companies employ more than 1,500 people in the area.

The Capital Area Workforce Development Board awards Workforce Training Grants based on a company’s application that explains how it will avoid layoffs, improve workers’ skills and conduct training.

In April, the board gave $197,801 to 14 businesses in Wake and Johnston counties to train 469 employees.

The Fuquay-Varina businesses were part of the latest round of grants.

Fuquay-Varina is a fast-growing town. It ranks first in North Carolina for population growth among cities with 20,000 or more residents.

“The No. 1 incentive for a company to move to a location is based on workforce development,” Seymour said. “The more well-trained employees there are, the more efficient the company is. By showing that these businesses are capable of meeting current and future workforce demand, it puts Fuquay-Varina on the map.”

Wanbaugh: 919-460-2604; Twitter: @TaylorWanbaugh

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