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Recipe for Success

Recipe for Success

Corporate Solutions Helps Dannon Yogurt Upgrade Workers' Skills

When you take a bite of Dannon Yogurt, you are thinking about taste, texture and satisfying your hunger. You probably don’t give much thought to the Dannon Company employees behind your snack. However, the process of making yogurt happens only through highly skilled workers—and Tarrant County College delivers the training that helps make each bite possible.

The training is offered by Corporate Solutions & Economic Development, a division of TCC that provides customized training to businesses across the region. Professional instructors use industry-standard curricula or work with company representatives to develop unique training in areas such as computer skills, management and leadership, language, safety and industry-specific technical training.

“The department’s trainers are subject matter experts in their respective fields and come from a wide variety of business, technical, manufacturing and management backgrounds,” noted Eugene Giovannini, TCC Chancellor. “Many hold nationally recognized certifications in their industries and in curriculum development.”

The division prides itself on delivering results quickly. While a two-week turnaround for training is preferred, Corporate Solutions has hosted classes with fewer than 12 hours’ notice. If a quick turnaround is needed, companies can hire Corporate Solutions on a contract basis. When there is a significant training need and time to prepare, businesses may prefer to apply for a grant opportunity, such as through the Skills Development Fund—Texas’ top training grant program.

Since its inception in 1996, the Skills Development Fund has created or upgraded more than 342,000 jobs throughout the state for more than 4,200 employers. At TCC, approximately half of Corporate Solutions’ training dollars come from Skills Development Fund grants.

Dannon and TCC began work on a grant application in spring 2015. The goal: secure funds to cover the cost of upgrading the technical skills of Dannon mechanics and operators at the Fort Worth yogurt manufacturing plant. Areas of focus included precision instruments and measurements, manufacturing processes, electrical maintenance and materials handling.

“The Dannon project is an example of a true partnership,” said Jennifer Hawkins, director of corporate solutions & economic development. “Dannon approached TCC with a need for training. Together, Corporate Solutions and Dannon worked out a training solution.”

As part of the first steps in the grant application process, Corporate Solutions instructors conducted site visits to the Dannon plant and met with employees at various levels.

“Every aspect of the training was tailored for our specific needs,” said Marlon Provo, maintenance manager for the Dannon Company.

We were able to identify skills gaps unique to us and develop the appropriate training to close those gaps.

Marlon Provo

That fall, TCC and Dannon learned they had won a grant of approximately $124,000 from the Skills Development Fund program. Training began on site at the Dannon plant just a few months later in January 2016. As a result, nearly 100 employees upgraded their skill sets.

“With this training, we have been able to grow capabilities of our operators and mechanics, allowing them to better run the equipment,” said Provo.

Joe Burleson is one of the employees who benefited from the training.

“We have a lot of high-tech equipment out there, and you need people who know how to run it,” said Burleson, a mechanic for Dannon. “With technology, you have to stay ahead of the curve. That’s what Dannon is doing.”

The training continued through May 2017, with tweaks to the curriculum throughout the process.

“Ongoing feedback and discussion allowed Corporate Solutions to make adjustments to further customize the curriculum, even during the grant period,” said Hawkins. “What makes this partnership so dynamic is the constant interaction and information flow between Corporate Solutions and Dannon.”

The partnership also gets high marks from Dannon.

“My experience with TCC has been fulfilling, seamless and has fully met expectations, from the inception of the grant to the delivery of the training,” said Provo. “The staff has been more than amazing to work with and bent over backwards to meet our needs.”

Nearly 4,000 workers a year receive training through TCC’s Corporate Solutions department. While not as well known as the College’s undergraduate offerings and career-technical programs, Corporate Solutions & Economic Development represents the fulfillment of a vital need in Tarrant County.

TCC’s mission is to provide affordable and open access to quality teaching and learning,” noted Giovannini. “In addition to traditional college courses and programs, corporate and workforce training is essential to the livelihoods of many Tarrant County residents. This benefits everyone because effective training helps businesses become more competitive, and the training provides employees with transferable skills that will help them advance their careers.”

The Texas Workforce Commission recognizes TCC’s critical role in workforce development.

”Tarrant County College is a valuable partner in providing advanced and industry aligned training that supports growth for companies like Dannon. TCC’s Corporate Solutions does a wonderful job of providing customized skills training benefiting area employers, their workers and the regional economy.”
—Andres Alcantar, Texas Workforce Commission Chairman

“Tarrant County College continues to demonstrate its responsiveness to industry by providing state-of-the-art training that is supporting business growth in our state. This grant between TCC and Dannon is a perfect example of a win-win situation with the employer receiving a custom-trained workforce that gives them a competitive edge, and the employee benefitting from high-quality training with an opportunity to start a career in the best state in the nation.”
—Ruth R. Hughs, TWC Employer Commissioner

“The employees at Dannon who received advanced manufacturing training through Tarrant County College have gained skills to boost their careers and greater confidence to make contributions on the job.”
—Julian Alvarez, TWC Labor Commissioner