Paul Anselmo of New Century Careers. (Photo special to Tube City Almanac)
- An audio version of this story is available in the April 12 episode of our podcast, "Two Rivers, 30 Minutes."
Producing a daily newspaper requires more than just gathering information --- researching, writing and editing. It also requires the skills to be able to manufacture and distribute the printed product.
So bringing New Century Careers' machinist training program to the former McKeesport Daily News Building on Lysle Boulevard makes sense in more ways than one, says Paul Anselmo, the organization's president.
"We're not looking to do very much remodeling," Anselmo says. "It's perfect just the way it is."
Based on Pittsburgh's South Side, New Century Careers has provided free manufacturing skills training since 1999. In June, the non-profit will expand its programs into McKeesport and the Latrobe area.
The expansion to the Mon Valley and eastern Westmoreland County is designed to accommodate students who may have difficulty getting to the South Side, Anselmo says.
As a native of the Mon-Yough area, he's also excited to bring the program home to McKeesport.
"I'm a McKeesporter," Anselmo says. "I've been a McKeesporter all my life ... so it's really exciting for me to bring this to McKeesport, because I feel like if we can make this work --- and I know we will --- I've done something for my community."
The McKeesport program will offer a so-called "quick train" version of New Century Careers' "Manufacturing 2000" curriculum. Classes will include six to 10 people at a time, Anselmo says.
The 125-hour quick-train course includes lessons in applied math, precision measurement techniques, blueprint reading, use of tools and other basic skills.
The training is not intended for hobbyists. "This is intended to help you find a job," Anselmo says.
Over the years, the parts of the Daily News Building --- now called the Tube City Center for Business and Innovation --- that were seen by most visitors were public areas such as the advertising department, cashier's cages and editorial and photography departments.
But behind the public areas, the Daily News was a factory, with two heavy-duty freight elevators, reinforced concrete floors, cranes, forklifts and high-capacity, high-voltage power.
"It absolutely works well for us, especially the electrical service, because most of our machines are set up to run on 480-volt, three-phase current, which this building has," Anselmo says. The freight elevators are going to make moving equipment much easier as well, he says.
Many of the skills New Century Careers will be teaching at the Daily News Building, he says, were used by employees of the Daily News during the newspaper's 131-year history, including for people working on the presses or in the paper's electric shop or machine shop.
"In terms of repairing the presses, for instance, most of the parts that would be needed would be made either in a machine shop or outsourced to people with those skills," Anselmo says.
Today, possible career paths for machinists include companies that produce medical devices and prosthetics, robotics and precision tooling and molds, as well as conventional, traditional machine shops that make and repair equipment.
NCC will be occupying a portion of the second floor along Lysle Boulevard, in an area once used to make printing plates. The space is currently under renovation.
Modern machinists have to be able to work in any kind of material, Anselmo says, from metals to "a thousand different plastics."
"There are a lot of exotic metals involved now, including aluminium and different composites, so it's not just steel," he says.
Although much of NCC's quick-train course includes work with heavy machinery, a significant portion of the training involves computers --- a reflection, says Anselmo, of the realities of 21st century machine shop work, which demands more precision than ever before. There will be a computer lab in NCC's space at the Tube City Center.
Participants in the classes will require a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma, Anselmo says, and must be able to pass a math exam. An associate's degree or other college education doesn't hurt, but isn't required, he says.
"If you have a good work ethic, that's what we're looking for, and if you think you're good with your hands, that will help," Anselmo says. "But it's also a brain job."
Most enrollees in New Century Careers' programs are fresh from high school or college, he says, but NCC also has trained people changing careers. "We've had people with bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, Ph.Ds," Anselmo says. "We've had firefighters, police officers, nurses --- every kind of occupation you can think of."
For more information, visit www.ncsquared.com or call (412) 258-6620.
Jason Togyer is volunteer executive director of Tube City Community Media Inc. and editor of Tube City Almanac. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published April 25, 2019.