A new initiative in the Kokomo/Howard County region – a coalition of industry, education, economic development and government known as “Advancing Manufacturing” – is looking to bring together local employers seeking well-qualified employees and individuals seeking rewarding jobs with a future. The coalition, with the goal of boosting the area’s manufacturing sector through a systems approach to developing the workforce, was introduced recently at a Manufacturing Employer Forum at Inventrek hosted by Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight.
Top on the group’s agenda now is recruiting additional employers and individual job-seekers to kick the program into high gear. Employers are being recruited to be partners who will utilize Advancing Manufacturing as a way to find and train the employees they need. Individuals are being recruited for the first class of an accelerated training program that will ready them for high-tech manufacturing jobs in 140 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction. The first class is scheduled to get under way on Jan. 6.
The strategic vision of Advancing Manufacturing is “to build a world-class talent pool to support the retention and growth of regional manufacturers.” Key focus areas have been developed to include the delivery of training that closes the skills gap between job seekers and available jobs; provide services and systems to more effectively match job seekers and available jobs in the manufacturing sector; and improve the image of manufacturing employment among job seekers, students, parents and school personnel.
Partners in this initiative include the City of Kokomo, the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance (GKEDA), Howard County, Ivy Tech Community College, WorkOne and local manufacturing employers. Central to the effort is a certification program for job seekers that involves 140 hours of training in the areas of safety, quality practices and measurements, manufacturing processes and production, and maintenance awareness. Upon successful completion of all four modules, an individual achieves a nationally recognized certificate as a Certified Production Technician. The course is offered by Ivy Tech Corporate College with training costs of $2,600 per student funded through grants and other contributions to the Advancing Manufacturing program.
“Financial support for this program is already coming from entities beyond the partner organizations that understand the critical need for skilled workers in industry and see the economic impact and value in the form of business retention and growth in our local community,” said GKEDA President Chris Hamm. “The Duke Energy Foundation has made a contribution of $62,500 in local scholarships for this program and a matching amount has been received from the State of Indiana through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the training program that begins Jan. 6 should contact Mike Federspill at Ivy Tech Corporate College Kokomo at email@example.com or 765-459-0561 ext. 233,
Craig Lamb from the Ivy Tech Corporate College and Kara Webb of WorkOne explained the two components of the Advancing Manufacturing program: “We Have Jobs Here” and “We Have Training Here”. WorkOne, Indiana’s workforce development organization, works with job seekers on job training opportunities and job placement with participating employers; Ivy Tech Corporate College provides the necessary training.
- The “We Have Jobs Here” portion is designed to connect employers to a qualified, skilled workforce. This is done by offering one access point for regional manufacturers to list their open positions and accept electronic applications, assisting employers with finding applicants who meet their qualifications for the positions. This component of the program also offers a robust advertising campaign utilizing radio, billboard, print and social media.
- The “We Have Training Here” portion offers scholarships to qualified applicants who pass fundamental skills tests, a drug test and an interview prior to the 140-hour training program. Upon completion of the program, a trained employee is qualified for immediate employment. “The program works because of the partnerships among all the parties and especially the local employers who as partners commit not only to hiring these newly trained applicants but also to paying for part of their training as well,” Lamb said. “After an employee has completed 90 days on the job, the employer is asked to pay for half of the expenses to keep the program running.”
In opening the recent Manufacturing Employer Forum, Mayor Goodnight said the new initiative is designed to provide vital foundational skills that will allow young women and men in the community to pursue jobs in Kokomo’s revitalized manufacturing sector.
“Kokomo has a rich manufacturing heritage. And while our economy has grown more and more diversified in recent years, that manufacturing core remains,” Goodnight said. ”Kokomo’s manufacturing community is growing stronger and stronger, with an influx of new companies, new jobs and new investment. By focusing on the immediate needs of our manufacturing sector, the Advancing Manufacturing effort will create a pipeline of workers, armed with the entry-level skills our manufacturing companies need. At the same time, it will provide our community’s workers with the tools they need to build strong and lasting careers in the technical trades.”
Terry Foster, Human Resource manager from Carter Fuel Systems in Logansport, provided the perspective of an employer who uses the initiative by both listing jobs on the Advancing Manufacturing website and hiring certified production technicians. “As a company,” he said, “we value these entry-level skills.” Jerry Brumfiel, a current student in the program from Tipton, Ind., provided insight on his goal of finding a local manufacturing job by acquiring skills that will meet the needs of the changing manufacturing environment.
More information on the Advancing Manufacturing program is available at www.AdvancingManufacturing.com To learn more about how to become an employer partner or how an individual can enroll in training, contact Mike Federspill at Ivy Tech Corporate College Kokomo at firstname.lastname@example.org or 765-459-0561 ext. 233, or Kara Webb at WorkOne REACH at email@example.com or 765-807-0891.
The Advancing Manufacturing training offered through Ivy Tech’s Corporate College and Ivy Tech Community College’s recently announced Advanced Manufacturing degree program are both examples of Ivy Tech’s commitment to supporting Indiana’s manufacturing sector, said Jan Bailey, executive director of Ivy Tech Corporate College Kokomo Region. The Ivy Tech component of Advancing Manufacturing’s “We Have Training Here” program is a non-credit, 140-training-hour program that leads to the Certified Production Technician technical certificate. Ivy Tech’s Advanced Manufacturing degree program is a 75-credit-hour academic program that leads to an Associate of Applied Science degree. As a degree program, it offers more extensive training in industrial automation/robotics maintenance skills and on-the-job experience with top manufacturing and logistics companies.