Gaston College Customized Training Program Leads Business and Industry Training Projects in NC

In the 1980s, there was some cynicism among business and industry leaders around the country about the effectiveness of Customized Training programs.

Leadership and managers were comfortable with developing partnerships with community colleges and utilizing their expertise. However, they were concerned about the time, cost and possible waste of budget resources because companies themselves were not ready for changes in their organizational management or company culture.

The Customized Training (CT) Program at Gaston College is a proven leader in developing long-term partnerships that are beneficial to companies in Gaston and Lincoln counties and that support economic development in the region.

The CT Program is a part of the College’s Center for Workforce Excellence that provides education and training opportunities for eligible businesses. The program’s dedicated staff offers training services to assist new and existing companies so they remain productive and profitable and can maintain a well-trained workforce.

Under the leadership of President Patricia Skinner, the College increased the number of regional employees trained from 355 in 1999 to a projected 5,131, an increase of 1,120%, by the end of this fiscal year on June 30, 2019. In addition, new jobs created for Gaston and Lincoln counties will total 765.

As reported in a recent update by the North Carolina Community College System’s office, Gaston College is currently the 2nd largest provider of Customized Training Projects within the 58-college system and is 1st in the system’s Southwest region. 

According to May 2019 figures, Gaston College is delivering to 16 employers in Gaston and Lincoln counties Customized Training that will create 765 new jobs while training 5,131 employees. The data breakdown for each county reveals:

  • Gaston County has 8 projects, 341 projected new jobs, 2,816 employees trained.
  • Lincoln County has 8 projects, 424 projected new jobs, 2,315 employees trained.

Gaston College’s CT Program utilized $770,394 in state funding to support its business and industry partners. Of that funding, Gaston County used $416,951 and Lincoln County $353,443.

“Prior to the construction of our plant and hiring our employees, we started a partnership with Gaston College,” said Lacey Kastel, Environmental Health and Safety Leader at Owens Corning in Dallas. “Safety training was an important part of our hiring process. The College helped us to target the top candidates we wanted to hire through a training process that gave us an opportunity to see employees on the floor and working with equipment. Our employees were much more prepared and ready to interact with equipment and components.”

Kastel added, “It’s a smooth transition each year with our partnership, and our safety department does not miss a beat. Gaston College is very open to feedback. We tell them if we have a problem with an instructor or the training. They want to know how they can do better, and they do what is best to meet our expectations.”

Laurie McGee, Human Resource Generalist for HYDAC in Denver said, “Customized training was pretty unique overall for HYDAC. We have many locations around the world but we are the only division in the US that does the cooling aspect. We produce a unique product for our customers, so our training has to be specific.

“For our management team, the College’s training customization, flexibility, and resources are the real draw,” she continued. “We are grateful for this partnership because we are able to provide training for employees at no cost to our company.”

Commenting on the success of Gaston College’s CTP program, Maureen Little, Vice President of Economic Development for NC Community Colleges said, “Each year Gaston College’s Customized Training Team is a leader across our 58 community colleges in serving Business and Industry.  This year is no different, with sixteen active projects and three that are completed. Employers in Gaston and Lincoln counties know to turn to Gaston College for assistance when they have workforce concerns and the College continually delivers. These partnerships are yielding greater economic impact for the two counties, the region, and the State of North Carolina”

Gaston College offers over 85 training classes in specific areas:

Specialized Workforce Solutions, Safety, Computerized Workforce Solutions, Healthcare, Business Leadership and Management, and Continuous Improvement. In addition, contracted training services are available in needs assessment, course design and development, contextualized curriculum and content, and facilitation and consultation.

Business and Industry companies that would like to develop a partnership with the Customized Training Program at Gaston College should contact the Center for Workforce Excellence at BUSINESSINDUSTRYTRAINING@GASTON.EDU or 704.922.6447.

You can also reach the Business and Industry Training Services by contacting Dr. Justin Arnold, Associate Vice President, the Center for Workforce Excellence at or 704.922.6448.

Photo- Hannah Thurauf & Lacey Kastel Owens Corniung

Hannah Thurauf, Senior Human Resource Professional and Lacey Kastel, Environmental Health and Safety Leader at Owens Corning in Dallas. NC. ” Working with Gaston College’s Customized Training Program gave our company a strong connection with area expertise to get top trainers and training for our employees,” said Thurauf.
Owens Corning has been a CTP partner with Gaston College since 2014. The company is a manufacturer of glass fiber-based non-woven rolls using a wet-laid process. The fibers are formed on a wire in an inclined wire former and then bonded using a water-based synthetic or organic binder. The water is evaporated indirect gas heated gas dryers after which the product is slit and- wound on a roll.

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