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January 28, 2020 11:17am

JCPS Academies of Louisville Partnership: Southern High School and C&S Machine Manufacturing

The Academies of Louisville at JCPS launched in fall 2017 with a mission to evolve public high school education by equipping students with the skills and 21st-century know-how needed to thrive in an ever-changing global economy. Read more about the partnership between Southern High School and C&S Machine Manufacturing below!

Morgan Cooksey, Manager, Business and Industry Solutions, Greater Louisville Inc. 
Tom Grace, Operations Manager at C&S Machine Manufacturing
Matt Haynes, Department Chair and lead instructor of the METaL Academy at Southern High School

Morgan: Tom, tell us more about C&S Machine Manufacturing, and why you chose to partner with the Academies of Louisville and Southern High School.
Tom: A family and veteran-owned company, C & S General Machine was founded in 1969 in Louisville, KY. Now, we have 60,000 square feet on a 3-acre campus with nearly 50 employees. True to tradition, we have several Journeyman Machinists as part of completion within the Journeyman Apprenticeship program. Southern H.S. and the Academies of Louisville have become a partner to provide hands-on training to prepare students to become valued members of our staff.

Morgan: Matt, please provide a brief overview of Southern’s METaL Academy and its impact.
Matt: The METaL Academy includes career pathways in Cyber Engineering, Army ROTC and Machinist Operator, which is our partnership with C&S. There are currently 113 10-12th grade students officially enrolled in the program, These students are working to earn a Measurement, Materials and Safety Certification from the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS).
In the 2018-19 school year, 48 graduating seniors were NIMS certified which qualifies them as career ready/transition ready. Currently there are 92 Southern students who are NIMS certified across all grade levels.

Morgan: Tom, what is the greatest benefit of the Academies Partnership to your business at C&S? How is this partnership supporting your company’s long-term growth?
Tom: Historically, our society has been pressing our young folks to “go to college” when they finish high school. As we all know, with the retiring of the Baby Boom generation, there is an ever-increasing demand for talent within the skilled trades. Under the direction of the Academies, and Southern H.S. leadership, young people that have the desire to “make stuff with their hands,” have an avenue to become educated, certified and skilled in professions that have unlimited earning potential during their careers.  Our industry (machining, fabrication) has seen a resurgence that created a shortage of skilled workers. At C&S, we build on the training kids have completed within the programs, which leads to shortened training times, more well-rounded employees, with higher skill sets.

Morgan: Matt, what is the greatest benefit to Southern High School’s Students?
Matt: Often, students believe manufacturing resembles old, dirty, dimly lit, dangerous shops. C&S provides a great example to students for high-tech, precision, innovation in modern manufacturing. The apprenticeship offered by C&S also allows students to pursue continuing education while still working full-time. The high-demand for skilled employees with good work ethic has also driven wages up, and with graduates from Southern going into C&S with great starting pay, it helps Southern attract and retain even better students to our program

Morgan: Tom and Matt, what does the partnership look like on a day to day basis?
Tom: Southern High School has brought several “field trips” to tour our facilities at C&S Machine. The kids get to see the machines in operation, talk with folks on the factory floor, ask questions of anyone. We don’t try to talk kids into anything, just be there to help them decide if joining the trades is right for them. Further, C&S employees have had several classroom speaking engagements within the schools to help answer questions and to paint realistic pictures of the possibilities for the students.
Matt: On top of being an official Academy Partner of Southern’s METaL Academy, C&S is also an active member of the Advisory Committee. C&S brings invaluable industry insight to our program, keeping us up to date on current industry trends, equipment suggestions, and curriculum guidance. With frequent feedback from C&S on what they find valuable in employees, we can ensure we are training students to fit their needs

Morgan: Tom and Matt, what can we look forward to hearing from the Southern High School and C&S partnership in 2020 or 2021? Any big updates, new projects, growth, etc.?
Tom: C&S Machine has been in business for over 50 years with multi-national companies as customers. Our largest customer has a new product line that will be released in mid-2020 which will require additional capital equipment and skilled employees to staff them. The employees that we have hired that came through Southern High School have become an integral part of our operation, and, we expect to hire more in the coming year(s).
Matt: At the end of this school year, we will host several events to place seniors into high paying positions, including C&S. In April, we will host an award ceremony where we will honor each student who achieved NIMS certification. Directly after the ceremony, students will participate in a job fair in which they can take the Certification and resumes around to local employers, including C&S, to discuss employment opportunities. This will culminate in a signing ceremony where any student hired by C&S with plans to enter the apprenticeship will be honored, similar to an athlete signing on for a college.