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Don’t Rely on Luck: How FastForward Helps Connect Employers to its Future Employees

As St. Patrick’s Day approaches, the luck of the Irish isn’t the only place to find fortune. At Virginia’s Community Colleges, stirring up opportunities, finding a great career and connecting with the right employer isn’t left up to chance.

We sat down with CJ Caudill, Director of Manufacturing at Aerofin to find out how  Virginia’s Community College’s FastForward program has helped foster new opportunities for students in the field of manufacturing.

“The college is there to support not only the community but also our business and they’ve done a really good job of that,” said Caudill.

Understanding Careers

Whether it’s learning different skill sets or increasing your earning potential, Caudill is passionate about what a career in manufacturing offers. For him, manufacturing doesn’t just pay the bills, it’s also genuinely fulfilling.

“Well, for my company, there’s everything from machinists to welders to working on different types of assembly braids, so there’s multiple applications they can learn,” said Caudill.

FastForward is able to connect students all across Virginia through partnerships like Aerofin to ensure that the courses they take now can be directly applied in the future.

Fostering Connection

By facilitating internships, apprenticeships, and job placements, FastForward transforms educational experiences into career opportunities, turning aspirations into reality. This not only benefits the students but also helps provide a strong pool of candidates for employers to choose from.

“We’ve built a community with Central Virginia Community College (CVCC),” he added. “I can make a call and they refer me to whoever I need to. I have probably 10 employees who actually leave work to go to take classes and come back. We work with their schedules and it’s worked out well because we are able to invest in our employees.”

The partnership between Aerofin and CVCC has helped equip students with all the tools needed for them to succeed in the field of manufacturing.

“They often refer people to me,” said Caudill. “Usually, they’re welders, like last year when their welders graduated in May, I picked up probably 10 new workers that year. We also send people over to classes to advance their skill sets in their maintenance department or in some of those other degrees.”

By allowing a strong integration between education and industry, FastForward encourages students to explore meaningful careers while providing businesses with skilled and hard-working professionals.

Choosing Careers

Choosing a career can be a difficult task. For many, it can mean the difference between leading a fulfilling career or dreading going to work. Caudill knows that community colleges can help with this pivotal decision, and why wouldn’t he? He benefitted from those very same opportunities.

“CVCC has just been a really good partner, but I am a product of the local community college system,” he said. “I graduated from Wytheville Community College before I went and got my bachelor’s and my master’s and all that. So, I understand the Virginia Community College system and it’s been amazing.”

If you’re looking to start a career but don’t know where to begin consider going to your local community college and learning what’s out there for you.

“Talk with the teachers, learn what career paths are out there,” he said. “Once they learn what you’re looking for, what skill sets you have, by the time you graduate, typically you’re going to have a job waiting on you.”

To connect with a career coach and explore FastForward’s training programs at your local community college, click this link.