Learning Lab Offers High-Tech Job Training

By Christie Duffy

With too few skilled workers available, a new tech company is coming down the conveyer belt in Eatontown and it’s looking not only to employ New Jersey residents, but to educate them.

“There’s about two million jobs that are unfilled today because of a skills gap. Meaning that the job seekers don’t have the skills or the training necessary for the manufacturers or the employers that are looking to hire,” said New Jersey Economic Development Authority President and Chief Operating Officer Timothy Lizura.

The state offered tax breaks to Festo, a German company, to set up shop in New Jersey. At the factory’s ribbon cutting this morning, invited guests got to tour the facility and play with some of the robotics and new technology the company is developing. Like the controls on a gaming chair.
Or robots which have the capacity to talk to other robots on the conveyer belt to tell each other things like “I’m ready for another one, I need more supplies, or slow down,” all via the internet. 
The company also manufactures robotics that are specially made to help teach science, technology, engineering and math students.

This learning lab is hoping to bridge the gap between education and industry. Bringing students ranging from high school age to mid career onto the factory floor and letting them see the types of technology being used today.

“Many times the teachers and professors are doing a fantastic job and they are doing the best they can trying to teach the realities of the factories to the people but sometimes they don’t know whats going on because they are not there on a day to day basis in the factory,” said Festo CEO Nader Imani.
They plan to educate 90 students at a time or as many as 3,000 per year. They’re also in talks to team up with some New Jersey colleges, like NJIT. Festo is also looking to train the workers of tomorrow for jobs you and I haven’t even heard of yet.  

“Like the technicians in the field of water, we do have mechanical engineer and electrical engineer and we give them additional training to become more specialized with water. But the demand for water is increasing. So more and more societies are asking themselves how the water is being used and if its being recycled correctly,” said Imani.

The company is currently developing a new profession to meet that end. The factory which will both manufacture and teach currently employs 60 workers. They plan to grow to 200 by 2020. 
Their training courses, which can run you $5,700 for a single day seminar, are scheduled to begin in January.