Clark College awarded $223k Job Skills Grant

For Immediate Release 
August 25, 2023 

Clark partners with nLIGHT for workforce training to enhance operations and employee development

VANCOUVER, Wash. – Clark College has been awarded $222,998 job skills grant to train employees of nLIGHT, a local high-tech manufacturer, as the company transitions toward a lean culture focusing on continuous improvement and leadership training. With its headquarters in Camas, Wash., nLIGHT is a semiconductor fiber laser manufacturer that makes products for markets including industrial, microfabrication, aerospace and defense.

The college’s Community, Continuing Education & Customized Training department has collaborated with nLIGHT, Impact Washington, ETI Group, and Paradigm Swift to develop a comprehensive training plan tailored to meet nLIGHT’s needs as it transitions to a lean culture focused on continuous improvement and practices. The goal is to equip its employees to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills to improve processes, function, and efficiency.

“We are excited to partner with local businesses like nLIGHT to create relevant educational pathways that bolster the skills of our local workforce,” Clark College President Dr. Karin Edwards said. “Clark College has a long 90-year history of strengthening the Southwest Washington community through these partnerships which are so integral to our community’s economic and educational vitality.”

Working closely with the Washington State Jobs Skills Program (JSP), these grants are awarded to licensed educational institutions in Washington. JSP funds half of the training cost. Partner employers provide a cash or in-kind match to fund the other half. “Clark College is available and ready to assist local businesses with customized training for their employees,” said Ann Campbell, Director of Community Continuing Education and Customized Training. Interested businesses can reach out to Campbell at or call 360.992.2356. You can find additional information by visiting the Customized Learning and Development page.

The grant funding will be used to deliver 17 training programs to 238 nLIGHT employees. This includes various training and certification for LEAN manufacturing, Six Sigma, Kaizen Rapid Improvement, Toyota Kata problem solving, team development, leadership skills, and document management. All training sessions will occur at the company’s Camas site, which has more than 500 employees. Training must be completed by June 30, 2024.

Manufacturing is ranked as the #2 industry in Southwest Washington and contributes to the region’s economic vitality. Meanwhile, unemployment in Clark County is at a record low of less than 5%, resulting in a shortage of skilled labor to meet job demands. The additional training will help current employees build competencies and upgrade their skills.

"nLIGHT continues to invest in US manufacturing through automation and continuous process improvement. We are pleased to extend our ongoing partnership with Clark College to facilitate additional training," said Chris Schechter Chief Operating Officer. "Funding from Clark College will enable us to invest further in Lean Manufacturing and develop employee skills that are critical to keep nLIGHT competitive today and well into the future."

About nLIGHT 

With its headquarters in Camas, Wash., nLIGHT is a leading vertically integrated supplier of high-power semiconductor lasers and fiber lasers for industrial, microfabrication, and aerospace and defense applications. The company was founded in 2000 by Scott Keeney.

About Clark College 

Founded in 1933 and celebrating its 90th year, Clark College provides residents of Southwest Washington with affordable, high-quality academic and technical education. It is a public community college offering more than 100 degree and certificate programs, including bachelor’s and associate degrees; professional certificates; high school diplomas and GED preparation; and non-credit community and continuing education. Clark serves a wide range of students including high school students, displaced workers, veterans, parents, non-native English speakers, and mature learners. Approximately three-quarters of its students are in the first generation of their families to attend college.

Clark College is Southwest Washington’s largest public institution of higher education and serves over 8,000 students per term. The college currently offers classes at two satellite locations: Washington State University Vancouver campus and Columbia Tech Center in East Vancouver. Additionally, the college broke ground this June on its new auxiliary campus, Clark College at Boschma Farms, in Ridgefield, Wash.

For additional information (media inquiries & photo requests):
Maureen Chan-Hefflin, Clark College Communications & Marketing
T: 360-992-2243 | E:

Jeffrey Powell, nLIGHT Director of Operations
T: 360-513-3290 | E: