NHBB awarded matching grant for employee training

PETERBOROUGH — More than 200 workers at New Hampshire Ball Bearings will be getting training this year that will be partially funded by a grant from the New Hampshire Job Training Fund.

The Job Training Fund is a program of the N.H. Dept. of Resources and Economic Development. New Hampshire Ball Bearings applied for and was awarded a matching grant for $59,683 from the state.

The grant money is available to private companies in New Hampshire, or companies intending to locate in the state, that have paid quarterly taxes into the N.H. Unemployment Trust Fund.

“In a way, it’s giving them some of their money back,” said Michael Power, the program administrator for DRED’s Office of Workforce Opportunity, on Friday.

Power said the program has been in effect since 2007.

“The job training program gives out approximately $1 million each year,” Power said. “It’s a one-to-one cash match to help companies upgrade the skills of employees. It doesn’t replace money that’s already being spend on programs, and it doesn’t replace what a company needs to spend on required training for state or federal licenses.”

NHBB spokesperson Hans Baker said the company will be contributing an equal amount for training.

“The ultimate amount of the grant will depend on how many employees go through training,” Baker said last week. “If we have fewer go through or a training program changes, the amount we get will change. We expect to spend close to $120,000 on training over a 12-month period.”

Baker said the training will be for both new hires and experienced employees in all departments of the company.

“Generally speaking, it will cover everything from leadership training to hands-on machining skills, training on new software and quality assurance certification,” Baker said.

Some of the training will be done at the Peterborough facility in a classroom environment, some will be done online during work hours, and some training may involve sending workers off site. The company will be using Tooling U-SME, which is owned by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and offers online training programs for a wide range of production workers. NHBB has used Tooling U-SME for three years, according to Baker, and more than 200 employees has participated in the training programs.

Training will also be provided in Driveworks Pro and SolidWorks, which are three-dimensional modeling software programs used in computer aided design. NHBB will send some of its experienced production employees to seminars focused on precision grinding and tooling offered by Norton Saint Gobain, a supplier of abrasives.

NHBB will also be working with the Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing, which is a consortium consisting of the Greater Keene Chamber of Commerce, the Keene School District, River Valley Community College, and Keene State College.

“RCAM covers a lot of skills in manufacturing,” Baker said. “We’re utilizing it as a new hire training source.”

He said RCAM runs a two-week off-site program that covers safety, math essentials, blueprint reading, metrology and inspections, metals and characteristics and hands-on manufacturing.

Baker said NHBB has received other job training fund grants in recent years, but this is the largest grant. In 2012, the company was awarded $2,100 and the 2013 matching grant was for $48,000.

Power said NHBB is seen as a role model for other companies.

“NHBB is one of the companies we point to that has a real investment in worker training,” he said. “They are always working with us to upgrade people’s skills.”

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