One sign that the photonics industry's growth is not flagging: Corning Inc. has opened the door to hire more than 200 hourly workers at its Photonic Technologies Div. manufacturing facility in Erwin. The additional workers, who will be hired in the next six to nine months, will boost the plant's work force to more than 800.
The plant, which has been open less than a year, manufactures amplifiers, splitters and other fiber optic components. The openings are in product assembly, testing and measurement, and quality control as well as support staff positions.
Barbara Metcalf, employee relations manager at the plant, said Corning is working with the state Department of Labor to generate a pool of several hundred applicants who have the basic skills necessary for the job openings. Corning has received more than 2000 applications since it opened the process to the public May 5. Metcalf said that the company has reviewed 600 of the applications thus far. "It is a fairly lengthy process," she said. "This is what we'll be doing all summer."
In light of a dearth of workers already trained in photonics manufacturing and technician skills, Corning has implemented programs to train new hires within its facilities and is working with Corning Community College to develop an associate degree in optoelectronics. The degree program, which was developed in part with funding from the state, is in its infancy and open only to Corning employees. However, as the degree program matures, Corning spokeswoman Monica Ott said, it will become available to the public. Ott and Metcalf both said that the program will not only train current employees and new hires, but also provide a source of local training for future expansions.