Grainger awards scholarships to Mountwest students to support skilled trades

Huntington, W.Va. - John Erdlitz of Huntington, a Welding Technology student, and Cameron Poling of Thornton, W.Va., a Machinist Technology student, at Mountwest Community & Technical College, were recently awarded $2,000 Grainger Tools for Tomorrow® scholarships by Grainger, a local distributor of facilities maintenance supplies. 

For Erdlitz, earning his associate degree in Welding means the opportunity for a stable career that will provide for his wife, son and twin daughters. “It has always been a passion of mine to learn how to weld,” Erdlitz said. “As I gain more business experience, I would love to open my own fabrication shop.”

Poling’s interest in the industrial trades began as a child. “The thought of becoming a machinist like my father always intrigued me,” Poling said. “The ability to create something from a block of raw material, working in an ever-changing environment, running 2-ton machines…I knew this was what I wanted to do.” Following his expected graduation in May 2014, Poling plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Precision Machining while working part-time as a machinist.

“Grainger is investing in the future of industry and communities through the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship Program,” said Randy Taylor, manager of Grainger’s branch in Huntington. “We are proud to partner with Mountwest and believe business and community college partnerships are one solution to building a stronger workforce.” 

Many businesses that rely on skilled workers report difficulty finding qualified individuals to fill open jobs.  In fact, skilled trades have been the hardest segment of the workforce for employers to staff for the last three years, according to ManpowerGroup

To help promote solutions around this issue, in October, Grainger launched an interactive skilled trades Playbook that connects businesses and community colleges in an effort to boost local workforce development.  This resource, developed in conjunction with Skills for America’s Future, serves as a one-stop, how-to guide with tips, best practices and other tools to help businesses and community colleges work together to train and advance workers in the industrial skilled trades. Visit www.skilledtradesplaybook.orgto download the full Skilled Trades Playbook and learn more about the skills gap challenge.

“We appreciate our partnership with Grainger as well as the support they provide Mountwest and our community,” said Dr. Keith Cotroneo, President of Mountwest. “Since 2009, this partnership has given our students the opportunity to achieve great career goals and we look forward to continuing that success with Grainger in the future.” 

About Grainger’s Tools for Tomorrow® Scholarship Program
Many report that part of the challenge in finding trained workers comes from misperceptions of the skilled trades industry. To promote the innovation and importance of careers in the industrial skilled trades, Grainger, in conjunction with the American Association of Community Colleges(AACC), launched the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship program in 2006 to help students in the industrial skilled trades realize their educational and career goals. This year, Grainger will award a Grainger Tools for Tomorrow scholarship to129 students at 70 community colleges in the U.S., with one-half of the scholarships targeted to U.S. Armed Forces veterans. Upon graduation, each student receives a customized Westward® tool-kit from Grainger to jump start their career.

About Grainger
W.W. Grainger, Inc., with 2012 sales of $9 billion, is North America's leading broad line supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products, with expanding global operations.

About Mountwest Community & Technical College
Mountwest provides programs to meet the varied educational and workforce development needs of its students and the community. Mountwest offers two-year degree and one-year certificate programs in Allied Health, Business and Information Technology, Human Services, Occupational and Technical Programs, as well as numerous continuing education opportunities and customized instruction. Mountwest is now located at its new campus located atop Fifth Street hill in Huntington.