Wednesday, May 15, 2013


            Thirteen Tri-County Technical College students have been selected for the Michelin Technical Scholars program that covers the cost of tuition, fees and books. Scholarship recipients also gain on-the-job experience through part-time paid employment opportunities with Michelin.

            Pictured from left are (standing) Terrell Ladson, of Anderson, a Mechatronics major; Bry Anderson, of Pendleton, an Industrial Electronics Technology (IET) major; Blaise Beard, of Anderson, a Mechatronics major; Brandon Popham, of Belton, a Mechatronics major; Robby Lightsey, of Seneca, a Mechatronics major; and Eric Hawkins, of Liberty, an IET major; and (seated) Jeremy Beacham, of Pelzer, an IET major; Beau Edgar, of Seneca, an IET, major; Darnell Winters, of Pendleton, a Mechatronics major; Chase Chapman, of Anderson, a Mechatronics major; Jacob Plyler, of Liberty, an IET major; and Ryan Sanders, of Easley, a Mechatronics major.


Michelin Scholars Program is Intro to Lifelong Career Paths


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                        5/9/2013

                                                                                                            (By Lisa Garrett)

            PENDLETON --- The top concern of today's manufacturers is finding skilled workers, especially young people, who possess the technical (math and science), as well as the soft skills needed for today's sophisticated workplace.   Another concern is that high school students aren't looking at manufacturing as an option when choosing career paths.  There's still a misconception that they would be performing menial tasks on an assembly line.

            Michelin representatives say the company's more aggressive promotion of the Technical Scholars Program is a response to the nationwide skilled labor shortage all industry is facing today, as well as a way to change the misperception many young people have that manufacturing jobs are routine, low paying, and dirty. 

            "The image of manufacturing has not changed as rapidly as the reality has in our work place. We need a skilled workforce that is ready and able to work in a high-tech environment.  Today's manufacturing is safe, clean, and highly automated," according to Steve Burry in Michelin's Corporate Employee Relations Department.

            In an effort to combat these stereotypes, Michelin, like many other companies, has created a Technical Scholars program at area technical colleges to grow their own technicians.

            Thirteen Tri-County Technical College students have been selected for the scholarship program that covers the cost of tuition, fees and books. Scholarship recipients also gain on-the-job experience through part-time paid employment opportunities with Michelin.  Good candidates for this program are students with strong math, science, and reading comprehension skills who are enrolled in Industrial Electronics Technology, Mechatronics Technology, or General Engineering Technology programs.

            To be eligible for consideration for the Michelin Technical Scholars Program, students must pass an aptitude test administered by Michelin officials and an interview with plant representatives.

            "It's a debt-free education for participants, along with the possibility of securing a $50,000 a year job as a reliability technician at one of Michelin's plants following graduation. These are really good paying jobs with great benefits with the potential of other career opportunities," said Burry.    


            "It's even more than that --  it's an introduction to a lifelong career path.  You are almost guaranteed a job when you graduate. It's a stepping stone," said Jason Barnes, a technical business unit leader at the Sandy Springs plant and who also helped to create the documentation for onboarding.  He also set up the safety training that participants undergo when they sign on and is overseeing their mentoring experiences. 

            "Scholars are paired with the most senior folks on crew during their 20 hours a week paid work experience.  We go to great lengths to ensure safety and that they get the most out of this experience.  There's a long observation period so they can familiarize themselves with an industrial environment," said Barnes.

            "Our current goal is to have 16 scholars in the pipeline in 2013," said Burry.  "We are preparing them for actual jobs --  if they successfully complete the program and skills testing, they will likely be offered a full-time job," he added.

            "It's an industry-driven program. We are looking for high-tech reliability technicians with mechanical and electrical skills.  All industry has this need and we are all pulling from the same pool of applicants.  We all need high-level technical skilled workers," said Burry.

            According to Burry, "There were 1,800,000 graduates in the U.S. in 2013 and only the top 10 percent will be hired in their majors.  Twenty-three percent of four-year graduates go back to a technical college to earn a two-year degree to learn an employable skill."

            A Workforce Development Team, consisting of representatives from Lexington, Greenville, Spartanburg and Anderson counties, is working to change the public's perception by partnering with technical colleges, school districts, and industry to showcase an accurate picture of modern manufacturing.

            "Our goal is to begin identifying students in middle schools because the key is to find individuals with a knack for math and science. By the ninth grade, we could identify them for the Technical Scholars Program.  By the time they are seniors, they can apply to Tri-County as Michelin Technical Scholars, take the assessment tests, and go through the interview process," said Burry.

            "We want the best of the best of the best. It takes great people to make great tires, "said Burry.

            "To work in manufacturing, you have to have the right skill set, and Tri-County is providing that by helping to build our Technical Scholars program.  But we've got to educate the parents.  Many believe their child needs a four-year degree so they aren't looking at other opportunities available to their sons or daughters.  The Michelin Technical Scholars program is a career path that offers a free education, benefits, job security, and a future with an amazing company.  We are committed to investing in your children.  It's a win for the school districts, technical colleges, industry, and the community.  Our hope is that our scholars see the opportunity they received and will go out and talk about Michelin and encourage others in their community to look at manufacturing as a lifelong career," said Burry.



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Rebecca Eidson
Public Relations and Communication Director

Lisa Garrett
Public Relations Associate