The metals industry has a long history in West Virginia given the presence of a skilled metals manufacturing workforce, raw materials, excellent multi-modal transportation network, and convenient access to markets. Companies include ArcelorMittal USA, Constellium Rolled Products, Felman Productions, Globe Metallurgical (WVA Manufacturing LLC), Steel of West Virginia, Swanson Industries, and Wheeling Nisshin, among others.
Nearly 12,000 people are employed in the industry, the majority of which are skilled production and craft workers, particularly metalworking machinery operators, metal fabricators, machine assemblers, and mechanics. Median wages in the industry in West Virginia are as much as 15 percent lower than the U.S., and the workers are well trained. The Education and Workforce Development systems of West Virginia are well positioned to support continued growth in the metals industry. Postsecondary programs are in place to support the occupations required. Programs include, but are not limited to: machine tool technology, industrial equipment maintenance, welding technology, industrial management systems engineering, machining technology, manufacturing specialist, and welding management.
The West Virginia Manufacturing Association and various industry representatives is now implementing a new Manufacturing Technology program for secondary and postsecondary students. The program is being piloted at two county technical schools, but will be ready for implementation statewide with the 2013-14 school year.
The Governor's Guaranteed Work Force Program provides training awards for eligible new and expanding companies that create at least 10 net new jobs within a 12-month period. Overall funding levels are based on wages and benefits, location of the facility, number of employees, and number of individuals to be trained. Awards cannot exceed $2000 per trainee.
Manufacturers have the ability to evaluate new technology, lower their production costs, improve efficiency, maintain tight tolerances and control, and greatly enhance the quality of their products by accessing the latest, state-of-the-art, metalworking machinery and technologies available at each of the four RCBI facilities conveniently located across the state. RCBI's 21st Century Manufacturing Network allows manufacturers to conduct online networking and collaborate with other network participants to help them reach and serve new markets. The RCBI network is a computerized clearinghouse of over 400 quality-oriented manufacturers in West Virginia and the surrounding region.
RCBI partners with national equipment vendors to provide access to high tech production equipment offering manufacturers a boost in the global market. Haas Automation, Inc., just one of RCBI's vendor partners, proudly bills itself "the largest CNC machine tool builder in the Western World," RCBI now offers Haas VF-2 machining centers, a Haas ST-10 CNC lathes, a Haas TL-3 CNC/manual lathes and Haas TM-2 mills. Additional partners include the Davis-Taylor-Forster Co. (DTF), Cincinnati Machine, and Blue Ridge Machinery and Tools.
The Robert C. Byrd Institute's Machinist Technology Program is a nationally recognized, technical training program that offers rigorous, specialized, hands-on instruction that prepares individuals for immediate employment and lifelong professional advancement. Recognized and certified by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS), the RCBI Machinist Technology Program also prepares its students for individual NIMS certification.